Aug. 24, 2020 By Allie Griffin
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed $2 billion LaGuardia AirTrain plan Friday and has opened the public comment period.
The FAA posted the draft review for the proposed 1.5-mile AirTrain from Willets Point to LaGuardia Airport online and concluded that the AirTrain route favored by the Port Authority was the best option.
The AirTrain — which Governor Andrew Cuomo first proposed in 2015 — would provide a link between the Willets Point Station and the airport. The public could access the Willets Point Station via the Long Island Railroad or 7 train and then take it to LaGuardia Airport.
The project has been highly contested by residents and local leaders who say the connecting 7 train is already crowded and that it would negatively impact the surrounding area, such as the Flushing Bay.
Others coming from west of LaGuardia Airport have complained that the route takes them past the airport to Willets Point, where they then head back in the direction they came from to get to LaGuardia.
The FAA, however, dismissed all other alternatives to the proposed AirTrain as they either didn’t fix the issue of travel times and traffic congestion at the airport or they aren’t reasonable to construct and operate, or both, according to the draft environmental impact statement.
The agency, for example, deemed ferry service unreliable as far as scheduling exact arrival times and wrote that extending the subway line in Astoria would be too costly and cause interruptions in service.
The proposed project does have some support though. Groups like the Queens Chamber of Commerce and Queens EDC want the AirTrain to come to fruition.
The project needs federal funding. Many local groups opposed to the project are urging Congress not to direct COVID-19 federal stimulus funds toward it. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also said federal dollars should not go toward the AirTrain.
According to the 34-page summary, construction of the LGA AirTrain is expected to begin in August 2021, and be completed in November 2025.
The public is able to submit comments through an online form or by email, voicemail or snail mail through Oct. 5. They can also voice any concerns or support at public workshops to be held virtually due to COVID-19 next month.
Public workshops and hearings regarding the AirTrain are scheduled for Sept. 22, 23 and 24 via Zoom. Those interested in participating can register online.
There will be two public workshops and three public hearings, which will also be livestreamed on the FAA Facebook and Youtube accounts. The workshops are on Sept. 22 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Sept. 23 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The hearings are set for Sept. 22 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Sept. 23 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Sept. 24 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.