Cuomo gives the green light to proposed LaGuardia Airport AirTrain connecting to Willets Point

Photo via Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office

The AirTrain project at LaGuardia Airport will be moving forward, thanks to legislation signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo this morning.

The governor’s legislation for the LaGuardia AirTrain project will allow multiple potential alignments to be considered during an upcoming environmental review led by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with required public participation. According to the governor’s office, only parcels of land owned by the city or MTA will be used, and no private property would be impacted.

The AirTrain is slated to run between the airport and Willets Point, where riders would connect to the Long Island Rail Road and the 7 subway train at the Mets-Willets Point stations.

“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. 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,” the governor said in a statement.

The AirTrain is planned to supplement the airport’s $8 billion redevelopment plan that will create a new, unified LaGuardia Airport. The plan will help to build Terminals B and C, which broke ground in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

The construction for the AirTrain project is slated to begin in 2020 and end in 2022. When complete, commuters will be able to take trips to and from Midtown Manhattan in under 30 minutes and access the entire LIRR Network and the 7 train.

Local elected officials from Queens have supported the AirTrain project, including Congressman Joe Crowley, Borough President Melinda Katz and Senator Jose Peralta. The governor thanked Senator Peralta and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry for passing legislation supporting alternative transportation routes that would “lessen the potential impacts” of the AirTrain while supporting LaGuardia’s modernization efforts.

Despite the praise, some think that the funding for the AirTrain would be of better use in fixing the city’s subway system. One AirTrain critic is Jessica Ramos, who is running against Peralta in New York’s 12th Senate District.

“The subway is crumbling, our schools are underfunded — and yet the legislative session ended with no plan to help our students or our straphangers. Instead, Jose Peralta and Albany legislators approved a plan to construct a billion-dollar AirTrain to La Guardia,” Ramos said. “Instead of building a new train for tourists, Albany should fix the broken subway system for Queens’ straphangers. East Elmhurst is a historically underserved community that desperately needs stronger public transportation. Building an AirTrain instead of delivering for these residents is offensive.”