February 9, By Hannah Wulkan
The Port Authority has issued a Request for Proposals to build an AirTrain connecting LaGuardia Airport to Willet’s Point, in an effort to reduce car travel to the airport.
Governor Andrew Cuomo initially proposed the AirTrain in 2015, suggesting the need to get travelers to the airport by public transportation. Currently, 86 percent of passengers travel to LaGuardia by car.
The AirTrain project coincides with a massive overhaul of the facilities and services at LaGuardia Airport.
“The millions of passengers who travel through LaGuardia each year deserve a convenient and reliable mass transit option that connects this key transportation hub to the heart of Manhattan,” Cuomo said in a statement Monday.
“We are transforming LaGuardia into a world-class transportation gateway, and an essential piece of the puzzle is ensuring rail mass transit access to the airport. With this action, we’re taking the next major step toward making this a reality.”
The consultants selected through the RFP would help design two new train stops at the airport and one at the Mets-Willet point station, which already has an LIRR and 7 train stop. The selected consultants would also design the route between the airport and Willets point, which would run for 1.5 miles along the Grand Central Parkway.
According to Cuomo’s press release on the RFP, the trip from Midtown Manhattan to LaGuardia would take less than half an hour once the AirTrain was completed, estimating that a ride on the LIRR from midtown to Willets Point would take about 15 minutes, and a ride on the AirTrain would take about six minutes.
According to the RFP, more long and short-term parking space would be added in Willets Point, as well as a rental car facility and hotel, though the RFP only asks that the chosen consultant design and help with procurement for the AirTrain and three stations.
Though the RFP doesn’t lay out any sort of budget for the project, Cuomo estimated that it would cost $450 million when it was initially proposed.
“With the transformation of LaGuardia Airport already underway, figuring out how to make travel to and from the airport easier for New Yorkers is a key part of improving the overall traveling experience,” said local Congressman Joe Crowley.
“Making the airport rail-accessible will go a long way toward accomplishing that goal and this announcement marks a critical step in making the AirTrain a reality.”
Submissions for the RFP are due in early March, and according to the timeline laid out in the RFP, the Port Authority hopes to release an RFP for construction in mid-2018 and open the AirTrain to passengers sometime in 2021 or 2022.