LaGuardia AirTrain Gets Final FAA Approval, Construction Could Start this Summer

LaGuardia AirTrain

LaGuardia AirTrain Gets Final FAA Approval

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a final approval for a monorail connecting trains from Manhattan to LaGuardia Airport. The approval gives the go-ahead for the roughly $2 billion project to pursue federal funding. The plan which was first revealed back in 2015, has seen pushback from surrounding communities and environmental advocates. Construction was first expected to start in 2020.

“The new LaGuardia Airport—the first new airport in the United States in over 25 years and the front door to New York—deserves a reliable, efficient, and affordable transit connector worthy of its destination,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement. “With the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval today of the LaGuardia AirTrain, that’s exactly what New Yorkers will get. This is the culmination of years of advocacy by this administration and a key moment in our efforts to rebuild New York’s infrastructure for the future.”

LaGuardia AirTrain

The Airtrain will connect LaGuardia to the No. 7 train and the Long Island Rail Road at Mets-Willets Point. Besides environmental issues, there’s also criticism about the route that travelers will have to take to reach LGA from Manhattan. Most New York City residents will have to travel east to get to Mets-Willets Point. They will then backtrack northwest to arrive at LaGuardia. However, the FAA has said alternatives, including a subway extension or busway, would not work.

The FAA held hearings last year as it conducted an environmental review. Eighteen federal, state and local agencies provided input and the public provided over 4,200 comments before the agency reached its decision. With FAA approval, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey can move forward with an application for federal funding. The Port Authority has said the project won’t require the taking of any public property, NBC reports. Numerous residential units, a middle school and two parks will experience noise and vibration impacts during construction, according to Tuesday’s report.

A Port Authority study projected ridership at 17,000 people per day in 2026 and slightly over 18,000 by 2031. The FAA on the other hand has estimated daily ridership at 13,000 people by 2026 and 14,000 by 2031.

LaGuardia airport is undergoing major construction right now, and the new Terminal B was recently unveiled. Construction on the supporting infrastructure for the proposed AirTrain is expected to begin this summer, Rick Cotton, the Port Authority’s executive director, said in a statement. You can follow construction updates here.

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