New legislation advances LaGuardia AirTrain project

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USA: Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation to advance the process to build a new AirTrain connection to LaGuardia Airport. The new law will allow multiple potential alignments to be considered during an upcoming environmental review of the proposed AirTrain LGA project, planned between the airport and the Long Island Rail Road Station and the 7 subway train at Mets-Willets Point in Flushing, Queens.

The Governor's action marks another critical step toward making a mass-transit link between Midtown Manhattan and LaGuardia a reality, which will help reduce vehicular congestion and delays for passengers traveling to and from the airport. AirTrain LGA seeks to establish a reliable, convenient means of travel, with less-than 30-minute trips between the airport and New York Penn Station or Grand Central Terminal. It will also provide rail access from all of Long Island via the LIRR as well as the MTA's 7 subway line.

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In coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the steps include the selection of a consultant to prepare the EIS and to oversee the process for the proposed environmental review. The environmental review is slated to begin later this year and be completed by the end of 2019.

Construction is anticipated to start in 2020 and conclude in 2022.

The legislation specifically defines a corridor within which the AirTrain LGA project could be constructed and allows, within this corridor, for alternative alignments to be developed and considered as part of an extensive environmental review process, with required public participation. That corridor was created in consultation with local community members and elected officials. No route can be finalized before the environmental review, which will be led by the FAA, is completed. Under the legislation, the State Department of Transportation would be authorized to acquire parcels of land already owned by the City or the MTA within the established corridor. No private property would be impacted.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates LaGuardia Airport, is working cooperatively with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to build a new station complex at Mets-Willets Point, with easy transfer options between the LIRR or 7-line and the new AirTrain, which will run approximately every four minutes. The total estimated travel time between midtown Manhattan and the airport of less than 30 minutes is comprised of an approximate 16-minute journey on the LIRR between Moynihan/Penn Station or Grand Central and Willets Point, followed by an approximate 6-minute journey from the Willets Point Station to LaGuardia.

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