By Rich Bockmann
The Port Authority is planning to shut down the AirTrain at various times through this month and into October in order to make key infrastructure improvements to the decade-old link between downtown Jamaica, Howard Beach and Kennedy Airport.
“The need to replace track switches, the system’s operational software and train control equipment, will require lengthy shutdowns of AirTrain JFK,” the agency said, adding that between Sept. 7 and mid-October the system will experience both partial and complete track outages. “The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will deploy dozens of shuttle buses over the next six weeks to help minimize inconvenience for travelers who normally use AirTrain JFK.”
The overhaul of the AirTrain system, which connects the airport to Manhattan via the Long Island Rail Road and the subway, is estimated to be completed at a cost of $3 million, the Port Authority said.
During the next several weeks, the authority plans to intermittently shut down different parts of the system, including full closure on some nights.
The agency said it will deploy buses from Jamaica and Howard Beach to the Federal Circle station at the airport, where passengers can transfer to shuttles that will carry them to individual terminals when the entire system is closed. There will be no charges for either the buses or the AirTrain when the partial track closures are in effect, the agency said.
September is typically one of the lighter travel months for the airport, and the Port Authority said it planned the system outages for a time when they would have the smallest impact on fliers.
The agency said it will also perform work to replace a bridge leading into the airport. Next weekend, the Port Authority said, the JFK Expressway leading from the Belt Parkway to the airport will be closed in order to erect steel for a replacement bridge above the roadway. Drivers will have to use the Van Wyck Expressway in order to access the Central Terminal Area.
Passenger traffic on the AirTrain has risen more than fourfold from 1.3 million passengers in 2003 to 5.7 million in 2012. The Port Authority estimates that roughly 45 percent of riders are workers commuting to jobs at the airport.
The authority will shut down the entire AirTrain linke from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m Sept. 22, Oct. 9 and Oct. 16.
The JFK expressway will be closed from 10 p.m. Friday through 6 p.m. Sunday, the PA said.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.