Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday the selection of an engineering firm that would create a plan for new AirTrain stations at LaGuardia Airport.
Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc. will lead the planning work on three separate projects including two new stations at the new terminal buildings located at the airport, a station at Willets Point and the “right-of-way” for the train from the airport to Willets Point.
According to Cuomo, the station complex will transport travelers between the new LIRR and 7 train stations that will be built within the next 5 years at Willets Point and the new AirTrain station at the airport.
Parsons Brinckerhoff will “analyze and assess alignment alternatives, conduct a geotechnical review, create a conceptual design for both the train right-of-way and the stations, and develop cost estimates for the project,” according to a press release.
In addition, the firm will also conduct a ridership analysis and analyze possible public-private partnerships to help finance the project. The plan also calls for additional parking options and a proposal to consolidate 10 rental car companies currently located at Willets Point into one station.
According to the governor, LaGuardia is the only major east coast airport with rail access. By 2030, the number of passengers flying in and out of LaGuardua Airport is expected to reach 34 million, which reflects an increase of more than six million passengers annually.
“The new AirTrain will improve passenger experience, reduce traffic congestion and serve as a key part of the modernization and transformation of LaGuardia into a world-class airport,” Cuomo said.”LaGuardia Airport is an essential part of New York’s economy and transportation network, and by providing additional transit options we will support new economic opportunities and growth throughout the region.”
Port Authority Commissioner Ken Lipper said at a January board meeting that the AirTrain would not have enough riders to justify the cost, which was estimated to be $450 million in 2015.
“I’d like to say that the two airport rail projects, one from Newark Airport to World Trade Center, the other from LaGuardia to Willets Point in Queens, are amongst the most ill-conceived projects that I’ve experienced in government,” Lipper said.
Others have argued that the AirTrain would not save anyone time and would crowd the already congested 7 line. The Village Voice pointed out that Long Island residents who do not live off of the Port Washington LIRR line would have to take several trains to access the AirTrain.