Feb. 8, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
A number of local organizations are holding a community forum in East Elmhurst Tuesday to discuss the pros and cons of the proposed LaGuardia AirTrain as the formal process to advance the project is about to begin.
The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to kick off the public review process this spring as it moves toward constructing a 1.5-mile elevated train line that would link the airport to Willets Point—near Citi Field. The Willets Point terminal would then connect to the Long Island Rail Road and the No. 7 train.
The forum, planned for Feb. 12 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the New York LaGuardia Airport Marriott, plans to inform residents as to what the project involves and address concerns dealing with the route, transit system, construction and more.
The panel discussion will be followed by a workshop that will inform locals how to get involved in the public review process.
The project, estimated to cost $1.5 billion, aims to reduce traffic congestion and provide travelers with an alternative means of transportation. Currently, 90 percent of LaGuardia flyers travel by car to get to the airport, according to The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
The proposed route would run along the Grand Central Parkway and across the edge of the Citi Field Parking lot. It would not require the acquisition of private property.
Advocates for the AirTrain say the commute from Manhattan to LaGuardia Airport via the proposed route—and LIRR or subway connection– would be approximately 30 minutes.
The public review process will be led by the FAA in collaboration with the Port Authority.
“The FAA expects to begin the LaGuardia Airport Access Improvement Project Environment Impact Statement (EIS) in the spring,” said an FAA spokesperson. “Plans are still being finalized for public meetings.”
The process will start with a “scoping” meeting where the public will get an opportunity to weigh in on what the FAA should study—via a public hearing– when it reviews the proposal.
The FAA will then put together a draft Environmental Impact statement and another public hearing will be held.
The forum, organized by local groups such as Guardians of Flushing Bay, Flushing Chamber of Commerce, and Ditmars Boulevard Block Association, will get attendees up to speed as to how they can be part of the review process.
The Port Authority said that a number of different routes will be looked at as part of the process but that the 1.5-mile is what it deems best. It estimates that between 6.6 million and 10 million trips would be taken on the AirTrain LGA in its early years of operation.
Critics of the current proposal say that the project will lead to overcrowding of the 7 train and the predicted travel time of 30 minutes is too optimistic.
“The goal of the forum is to educate and provide people in opposition to ask questions and connect with people with similar concerns,” John Choe, Executive Director of the Flushing Chamber of Commerce told the Queens Post.
Rebecca Pryor, program coordinator of local groups Guardians of Flushing Bay and River Keeper, said that it’s important for locals to get involved at this early stage.
“The public needs to say ‘this is what needs to be looked at’ and if it’s not reviewed then it’s not a full review. The only way this process is democratic is if people know about it.”
For additional information on the forum, click here