FAA Greenlights LaGuardia AirTrain ProjectWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the approximately $2 billion LaGuardia Airport (N.Y.) AirTrain project, following environmental review.
The July 20 Record of Decision (download below) allows the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to proceed with its proposal to construct the long-sought rail system and to submit an application for funding under the Passenger Facility Charge program, according to the FAA. The program allows for the collection of fees added to passenger tickets. The proceeds can be used on certain qualifying airport projects, subject to FAA approval.
The elevated fixed-guideway APM (automated people mover) system would link the airport with the MTA New York City Transit 7 Line subway and the MTA Long Island Rail Road Port Washington Branch at Mets-Willets Point in Queens. There would be three APM stations (two on-airport and one off-airport), as well as passenger walkways connecting to LaGuardia’s Central Hall, a parking garage connector, public transportation and ground transportation facilities, according to the FAA.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was released on March 19, 2021.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 20, 2015 proposed the rail link from MTA subway and rail services in Queens to LaGuardia Airport, the oldest and smallest of New York’s three primary area airports and the only one lacking rail access of any kind. At that time, the project was estimated to cost $450 million.
“We thank the FAA for conducting an exhaustive and independent environmental review that benefited from extensive input and engagement from the public and the local community during the two-year-long EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] process,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said after the FAA’s announcement. He noted that the project “will help drive the region’s economic recovery by creating 3,000 union construction jobs and more than $500 million in business contracting opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses and local, Queens-based businesses. It also includes a historic investment of $50 million in the Malcolm X Promenade along Flushing Bay and other neighborhood parks.”
Cotton reported that with “construction on supporting infrastructure set to begin this summer, the Port Authority will continue offering regular engagement opportunities for local residents throughout the construction period to ensure transparency and accountability.”
Operations could start as early as 2025.