Queens senator joins community groups for town hall on LaGuardia AirTrain

Environmentalists speak out against proposed LaGuardia AirTrain
Rendering of the proposed AirTrain to LaGuardia. (Photo courtesy of governor’s office)

Queens community groups and State Senator Jessica Ramos will host a town hall to discuss the LaGuardia AirTrain project on Tuesday, April 6.

The town hall will take place at 6:30 p.m. both virtually over Zoom (ID number: 837 7037 4198, passcode: 458841) and in person at the World’s Fair Marina Restaurant, located at 1 Marina Road in Corona. Masks will be required and social distancing measures will be in place.

The town hall will give community members a chance to hear more about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $2 billion AirTrain project and discuss how it could impact the surrounding neighborhoods. It is sponsored by Ramos, Ditmars Blvd. Block Association, Guardians of Flushing Bay and Sensible Way to LGA Group Coalition.

The proposed AirTrain involves construction of a rail that would be approximately two miles long with three stations, two at LaGuardia Airport and one off the airport. The stations would connect with the 7 train and the Long Island Rail Road’s Willets Point station.

There would also be passenger walkways connecting to the LGA Central Hall, which provides access to Terminal B and C, parking garages, public transportation and ground transportation facilities, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Advocates of the project say it will provide a 30-minute ride from Manhattan to LaGuardia Airport.

But the community groups and Ramos have publicly opposed the LaGuardia AirTrain project for well over a year. Ramos told QNS last February that the funds proposed for the AirTrain would be better spent improving the borough’s infrastructure and providing better transportation alternatives.

Sensible Way to LGA members cite various concerns that include the environmental and health impacts the project might cause to the immediate community, lack of adequate funding for park land along the promenade, lack of targeted job programs and opportunities for local residents, LIRR and 7 train accessibility and overcrowding and potential property damage to businesses and homes in East Elmhurst.

The town hall comes after the FAA released its 600-page Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) last month, the next to last step in the federal review process.

The Port Authority noted community benefits were added in response to feedback from residents, such as $50 million in commitments to Flushing Bay Promenade and capital improvements along the development, as well as the support the project has received from a variety of stakeholders, transportation officials, businesses and labor organizations.

The FAA will make a final decision in April. If the FAA approves the project, construction of the AirTrain is expected to begin in June 2021 and be completed in December 2025.

But the groups and Ramos maintain their disapproval of the project, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic that has disproportionately impacted the communities surrounding the airport.

“After all that our residents have been made to endure during this pandemic, it is egregious and offensive that Albany continues to push ahead with plans to build a $2 billion AirTrain that would have serious implications on the health and wellbeing of our communities and cause further damage to the waterfront and parkway,” Ramos said. “My neighbors need a hospital. They need good jobs so that they can put food on their tables. We can’t eat the AirTrain.”

For more information on the town hall, see the below fliers.

Photos courtesy of Sensible Way to LGA

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