You are reading

Rep Ocasio-Cortez Opposes Federal COVID-19 Relief Funding for LGA AirTrain Project

AirTrain LGA model (A New LGA)

July 29, 2020 By Allie Griffin

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has come out against the plan to build a $2 billion AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport and said she does not want the federal government to allocate COVID-19 relief funds to support the project.

The future of the project to construct a 1.5-mile AirTrain from Willets Point to LaGuardia Airport is uncertain, as the coronavirus pandemic has delivered a major blow to the state economy and budget.

At the end of May, Governor Andrew Cuomo called on the federal government to help fund Port Authority infrastructure projects, including the AirTrain, which he said would have the added benefit of giving the economy a boost.

However, many residents who live near the proposed route don’t want the project and thus oppose federal funding for it.

Ocasio-Cortez came out against the plan today in the wake of local groups calling up various congress members– in a coordinated effort– asking them to block the allocation of federal funds for the LGA AirTrain.

The congresswoman released a statement today in which she said bailing out the project would be a slap in the face to the surrounding East Elmhurst community — one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.

“While state and local funding is desperately needed in the next COVID-19 relief package, it would be the ultimate insult to finally send aid to this community in the form of a project that they firmly oppose and that could further jeopardize their health and safety,” she said.

The AirTrain 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.

Proposed AirTrain route

However, many residents argue that the 7-train is typically overcrowded and can’t support additional riders, particularly those with luggage.

The raised tracks would be built along the Flushing Bay waterfront, which has also raised concern among environmentalists.

Guardians of Flushing Bay, a local coalition that has been critical of the LGA AirTrain, organized a call to action against funding the project earlier this month.

“The AirTrain is an unnecessary vanity project,” the group posted on Twitter. They asked Queens residents to call their representatives about the plan at the start of July.

Ocasio-Cortez, today, said she stands will the coalition, as well as several other community groups and Queens Community Board 3 that oppose the AirTrain project.

“Until such time as a new route is identified, or the community’s concerns are sufficiently alleviated, no federal COVID-19 relief funding should be granted to the Port Authority for the purpose of constructing the AirTrain,” she said.

It’s not the first time the Congresswoman has criticized the project.

In January, she wrote a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration questioning why the agency rejected several alternative plans for transportation to LaGuardia Airport.

However, the project does have some support.

A coalition of economic development groups, unions, civic stakeholders and local businesses known as “A Better Way to LGA” are backing the project.

The group argues that the AirTrain would reduce traffic on Grand Central Parkway and local streets, ease parking issues and car pollution, and provide reliable, predictable travel times for LaGuardia travelers. The proposed route would also not displace any local residents or businesses.

The coalition includes the Queens Chamber of Commerce, the Queens EDC and the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation among others.

email the author: [email protected]


Click for Comments 

AOC was a big mistake. People are starting to realize it. I dont know if shes qualified to run track nevermind public office

Took away Amazon jobs and now this

Yet she complains how crime is up because of no economic opportunity.

Larry Penner

In 2014, Governor Cuomo announced that the estimated cost for the LaGuardia Air Train was $450 million with a completion date of 2019. The Port Authority has budgeted $2.05 billion of funding within the $36 billion 2017 – 2026 Ten Year Capital Plan for the LaGuardia Air Train. This doesn’t include several hundred million more which is necessary to relocate the NYC Transit Casey Stangel Bus Depot. There is no funding within the MTA $51 billion 2020 – 2024 to pay for this cost. The Federal Aviation Administration will not issue a environmental NEPA finding until 2021.Costs would be further refined as the project progresses through the environmental review process, preliminary and final design, award of construction contracts followed by change orders during construction, due to changes in scope or unforeseen site conditions. The final Air Train cost could end up several hundred million to a billion or higher. Six years have passed with little progress. There are no completed environmental documents or any preliminary design and engineering efforts necessary to validate construction costs. Who can predict the final cost and completion date?
There was always only $3 billion allocated toward the $10 billion new Port Authority midtown Manhattan Bus Terminal. This project has carried a $7 billion shortfall for years. The project has never advanced beyond the environmental review process. There has never been a final determination to rebuild at the existing site or relocate to the Javits Convention Center. Nobody knows if the PA has talked to the Federal Transit Administration about potential funding down the road. No one can predict the final cost and completion date.
Mr.Cotton reminds me of Chicken Little who said “the sky is falling.”
(Larry Penner — transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked 31 years for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for the MTA, NYC Transit bus and subway, Staten Island Rail Road, Long Island and Metro North Rail Roads, MTA Bus, New Jersey Transit along with 30 other transit agencies in NY & NJ).


“However, many residents argue that the 7-train is typically overcrowded and can’t support additional riders, particularly those with luggage.” WELL, GUESS WHO OVERCROWDS THE 7 TRAIN ???

Queen of Queens

Just about sick Of AOC opposing everything that will brong jobs and inprovements to Queens.

King of Everything

What jobs? Amazon continues to open warehouses like in Maspeth without non-transparent deals cut between our politicians and Amazon executives. They are not high paying jobs but McJobs. You’re still referring to that? Learn to research and read.

She is a socialist

The Amazon jobs in Long Island City were going to be good paying white collar jobs. That site was going to be their 2nd head quarters. They were going to start programs at LAGCC and the local high schools, AOC is clueless. Isn’t AOC an Economics major? She is completely clueless.

AOC redistributed taxpayer wealth to give everyone free money

What a socialist!

Oh wait that was Trump that gave out free money to millions of people, my bad!


I hate people like you who know just enough not to you you don’t know enough. It was the Amazon HQ that was going to be built. It wasn’t going to be a warehouse. We are talking executives here, the average salary was going to be $150,000. Wake up and do some research.


Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Op-Ed: This Year’s State Budget Must Prioritize Climate, Jobs, and Justice for New York

Op-Ed, Jan. 30, By Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas

In a time of rampant economic inequality and environmental injustice, it is easy to feel defeated.  Here in Queens and across New York State, however, communities are organizing for a better future. New Yorkers from different backgrounds and with different lived experiences are proving that we can build community, organize, and create a future that reflects our shared values.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

Raga sworn in as first-ever Filipino American elected to the state Legislature

More than 300 community members attended the historic inauguration of Assemblyman Steven Raga as the first Filipino American elected to office in New York state.

Many who attended the swearing-in event at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park wore traditional and cultural attire to the event at the building that once housed the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations from 1946 to 1950 until its current home in Manhattan became available for the world body.