Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation to advance the process to build a new AirTrain connection to LaGuardia Airport. The new law will allow multiple potential alignments to be considered during an upcoming environmental review of the proposed AirTrain LGA project, planned between the airport and the Long Island Rail Road Station and the 7 subway train at Mets-Willets Point in Flushing, Queens.
The Governor’s action marks another critical step toward making a mass-transit link between Midtown Manhattan and LaGuardia a reality, which will help reduce vehicular congestion and delays for passengers traveling to and from the airport. AirTrain LGA seeks to establish a reliable, convenient means of travel, with less-than 30-minute trips between the airport and New York Penn Station or Grand Central Terminal. It will also provide rail access from all of Long Island via the LIRR as well as the MTA’s 7 subway line.
“The new LaGuardia Airport will provide an improved customer experience with better access to airlines and public transportation for all passengers – essential to the airport’s transformation,” Governor Cuomo said. “AirTrain LGA will set an example of comprehensive transit infrastructure for the rest of the nation, and will pay dividends for decades by connecting riders to transit hubs across the Metropolitan area, boosting passenger growth across all airlines, and providing a more efficient means of travel for generations to come.”
“We’re transforming airports in New York with significant investments in additions and upgrades to provide a better experience and increased services,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The LaGuardia AirTrain project will provide easy access and options for travel for people in Manhattan and on Long Island. We’re committed to remaking our airports into 21st century hubs of transportation.”
“For too long, LaGuardia Airport has had the dubious distinction of being the only major East Coast airport without a rail link, and that is unacceptable,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “Simply put, a 21st century airport must meet global standards, and that requires rail mass transit access. The AirTrain will complement the ongoing $8 billion redevelopment of LGA into a world-class airport worthy of New York.”
In coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the steps include the selection of a consultant to prepare the EIS and to oversee the process for the proposed environmental review. The environmental review is slated to begin later this year and be completed by the end of 2019.
Construction is anticipated to start in 2020 and conclude in 2022.
Governor Cuomo praised Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry and State Senator Jose Peralta for their efforts in passing legislation to consider alternative routes that would lessen the potential impacts of AirTrain LGA on community residents, while supporting LaGuardia Airport’s ongoing modernization.
The legislation specifically defines a corridor within which the AirTrain LGA project could be constructed and allows, within this corridor, for alternative alignments to be developed and considered as part of an extensive environmental review process, with required public participation. That corridor was created in consultation with local community members and elected officials. No route can be finalized before the environmental review, which will be led by the FAA, is completed. Under the legislation, the State Department of Transportation would be authorized to acquire parcels of land already owned by the City or the MTA within the established corridor. No private property would be impacted.
The Port Authority already has conducted numerous meetings with local elected officials, community groups and other key stakeholders to elicit comments regarding potential AirTrain routes ahead of the formal environmental review process. The agency will continue to actively seek further input.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates LaGuardia Airport, is working cooperatively with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to build a new station complex at Mets-Willets Point, with easy transfer options between the LIRR or 7-line and the new AirTrain, which will run approximately every four minutes. The total estimated travel time between midtown Manhattan and the airport of less than 30 minutes is comprised of an approximate 16-minute journey on the LIRR between Moynihan/Penn Station or Grand Central and Willets Point, followed by an approximate 6-minute journey from the Willets Point Station to LaGuardia.
Today’s action builds on significant momentum announced by Governor Cuomo over the past 18 months toward building AirTrain LGA. Those actions include the selection of Parsons Brinckerhoff to lead preliminary engineering and design process for up to two new AirTrain stations at LaGuardia Airport’s new unified terminals, as well as construction of an AirTrain station at Mets-Willets Point and construction of the system’s elevated guideway.
The announcement also supplements the progress to create a new $8 billion state-of-the-art unified LaGuardia Airport via public-private partnerships to build new Terminals B and C, which broke ground in 2016 and 2017, respectively. A new Terminal B garage opened earlier this year and the first new concourse and gates at Terminal B will begin operations later this year.
The new Terminal B, being developed by the consortium LaGuardia Gateway Partners, is expected to open its main area (head house) in 2020, while Delta is anticipating the opening of its new Terminal C – (replacing the airport’s existing Terminals C and D) in 2021.
Congressman Joe Crowley, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus said, “Today marks an important milestone in our efforts to rebuild and modernize infrastructure across New York. The AirTrain will finally make LaGuardia rail-accessible, better connecting travelers with the airport and helping to relieve congestion. New Yorkers deserve a first-rate airport they can be proud of, and I thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to transforming LaGuardia into a 21st century facility.”
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said, “For the AirTrain LGA project, it’s not a matter of whether, but a matter of where, which will be largely determined by the local community as part of the environmental review process. AirTrain LGA is an important component of the massive infrastructure overhaul underway to transform LaGuardia Airport into a 21st century, state-of-the-art, reliable airport. Queens thanks Governor Cuomo’s leadership in ensuring the project serves the needs of the airport while at the same time working in partnership through the environmental review to identify and address the concerns of the impacted surrounding community.”
NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Director Mitchell Moss said, “Governor Cuomo has done the impossible: he is connecting LaGuardia Airport, which serves 30 million passengers a year, to the region’s major transit hubs, so air travelers can get to their flights without enduring delays from crowded highways and arterials. LaGuardia is one of the region’s greatest assets, and with the AirTrain, getting to your flight will no longer be the equivalent of a cardiac stress test.”
New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento said, “The LaGuardia reconstruction project is providing hundreds of working men and women solid union jobs. It’s another example of Governor Cuomo’s true leadership as he delivers on his commitment to grow the middle class while also bringing forward-thinking transit plans to the Empire State.”
Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York President Gary LaBarbara said, “There is no better testament to the Governor’s commitment to rebuilding our infrastructure than the project to build a new LaGuardia. It’s been talked about for years and now we’re getting it done. From the beautiful new terminals to a new LaGuardia AirTrain connecting New Yorkers to the airport, we are finally building an airport worthy of this great state. I applaud the Governor for spearheading this effort and turning a dream into a reality.”