By Mark Hallum
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to make the AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport a reality within four years as part of the ongoing $8 billion redesign of the airline hub.
The bill allows for multiple alignments to be considered during an environmental study on the effects of linking the LIRR and No. 7 subway station at Willets Point with LaGuardia Airport, which serves about 30 million people per year.
“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,” Cuomo said. “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.”
AirTrain LGA plan is to benefit the environment and traffic congestion in the surrounding neighborhoods by taking cars off the road.
With the AirTrain, people headed to LaGuardia from Midtown Manhattan can plan for a 30-minute trip, instead of an hour to an hour and a half depending on traffic, according to Cuomo’s office.
Passengers will be able to get to Willets Point from the new Moynahan Train Hall, a renovation of the Farley Building adjacent to Penn Station, and Grand Central Terminal once the East Side Access for LIRR riders is complete.
“We’re transforming airports in New York with significant investments in additions and upgrades to provide a better experience and increased services,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The LaGuardia AirTrain project will provide easy access and options for travel for people in Manhattan and on Long Island. We’re committed to remaking our airports into 21st century hubs of transportation.”
The only two stops on the AirTrain will be at an eastern point for the Delta terminal and at the new central hall under construction on the western side.
The $8 billion redesign of the airport was unveiled in 2017 followed by Delta’s breaking ground on its new facilities in 2017.
With the environmental impact study scheduled to be finished at the end of 2019, the AirTrain’s construction will begin in 2020 and follow the completion of LaGuardia’s redesign in 2022.
“For too long, LaGuardia Airport has had the dubious distinction of being the only major East Coast airport without a rail link and that is unacceptable,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “Simply put, a 21st century airport must meet global standards, and that requires rail mass transit access. The AirTrain will complement the ongoing $8 billion redevelopment of LGA into a world-class airport worthy of New York.”
The environmental review will start this summer and is expected to take input from the surrounding communities.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall