BY JON CRONIN
As part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s revitalization of LaGuardia Airport, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced this week that engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff had been chosen to create the design for a new AirTrain to the airport from Willets Point.
The new AirTrain is projected to provide a 30-minute commute to Manhattan hubs such as Grand Central Station and Penn Station via the 7 train and Long Island Rail Road stops at Willets Point. The number of passengers at LaGuardia is expected to increase by more than six million annually by 2030. Currently, LaGuardia is the only major East Coast airport without rail access.
The Manhattan-based engineering firm’s mandate also includes construction of up to two new AirTrain stations at the new terminal buildings at LaGuardia, a station at Willets Point and any work related to the “right of way” for the train from the airport to Willets Point. The engineering firm was also tasked with creating a service that would enable travelers to easily transport themselves and their luggage between the Manhattan hubs and the airport.
The governor’s office announced that the station, which will be completed over the next five years, would be a high-tech, three-station complex to seamlessly blend the passenger transfer between completely new LIRR and 7-line subway stations and the AirTrain stop.
“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.”
Pat Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority, said that rail access to LaGuardia was long overdue.
“LaGuardia Airport is the only major airport in the region without direct rail transit access,” Foye said. “With passenger demand expected to reach 34 million annually at LaGuardia by 2030, providing mass transit access to the airport is fundamental to transforming it into a world-class facility that supports future growth, while reducing roadway congestion and resulting emissions.”
Cuomo originally announced the plan to extend the AirTrain to LaGuardia in January 2015, a full six months before he announced the $4 billion plan to revitalize the entire airport alongside then-Vice President Joe Biden. Biden famously accused LaGuardia Airport of looking like it belonged in a third-world country a few years ago. Cuomo brought the vice president back to the airport in the spring of 2016 to kick off the multi-billion-dollar project.
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin.