Monday, January 19, 2015

$450M Plan to Connect LaGuardia Airport to AirTrain and Subway

This week, Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to announce a bold plan to build a 1.5-mile rail line along the Grand Central Parkway to connect LaGuardia Airport to the No. 7-Line and Long Island Rail Road at Willets Point station. Under the plan, New Yorkers will finally be able to take the train to LaGuardia Airport. Construction of a second AirTrain in Queens will cost around $450 million —about $300 million per mile—and is expected to take five years to complete.

The new AirTrain will be the first rail line running to LaGuardia, which can now only be reached by bus or car, making for a difficult trip.

Construction of a direct rail ride to the northern Queens airport would be a huge relief for millions of passengers each year.

Currently, those going to the airport by public transit would have to take a number of buses, including the M60 bus service from Harlem and the Q70 from Jackson Heights.

The 1.5 mile line will run along the Grand Central Parkway won’t create an undue burden to any of the neighboring structures.

Because Willets Point is an industrial area, the project should not face any major problems with the community that would arise in residential neighborhoods.

Construction of the new AirTrain — which will be built by the Port Authority and the MTA — is estimated to cost around $450 million. —about $300 million per mile—and take about five years to build.

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New York State has cash to fund the project and other transportation plans, from sources including a $5 billion budget surplus created from recent settlements with major banks.

JFK Airport already has an AirTrain connecting it to the subway. That rail line is 8.1-miles long and connects riders from the LIRR and E and J trains at Jamaica, and the A train at Howard Beach.

It connects to each of the airport's terminals as well as a parking lot for car rental companies and shuttles to nearby airports, and costs $5 when entering or leaving at Jamaica or Howard Beach.

Connecting LaGuardia to the subway and LIRR will be a boost to the Willets Point area ahead of its redevelopment, which is currently in the beginning stages.

The transformation includes rehabbing the polluted ground of the former Iron Triangle, land that will eventually be home to thousands of units of housing, hotels, a school and a large mall.

The new AirTrain announcement is expected to be the highlight of a transportation and infrastructure plan presented by Cuomo ahead of Wednesday’s State of the State address.

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New York is a world class location but our airports are outdated and lag behind our competitors. Vice President Joe Biden’s recently joked that LaGuardia looks like a “third world country.”

Airport re-design plans include a high speed ferry terminal to connect LaGuardia to Manhattan, a hotel and business center and more shops and restaurants at LaGuardia – as well as another hotel at JFK.

As part of the state’s infrastructure plan, the governor will be pushing for construction of four new stations in the Bronx along the Metro-North line and redesign of the runways at JFK and LaGuardia to reduce delays.

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