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The LaGuardia AirTrain is coming whether NYC needs it or not

By Clayton Guse

The ambitious renovation project at LaGuardia Airport promises to bring the dilapidated travel hub into the 21st century over the next five years. One key part of that transformation is a planned AirTrain that will connect the airport’s terminals to the 7 subway line and the Long Island Rail Road via the Willets Point station in Queens. On Thursday, the Port Authority board took another step toward its construction, unanimously signing off on $55 million in additional funding. 

The new cash follows an announcement by Governor Andrew Cuomo in May stating that the firm Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc. was selected to conduct preliminary engineering and planning work for the AirTrain. According to Port Authority meeting materials, $32 million of the investment approved on Thursday will go toward consulting services, with the remaining money going toward program management, procurement support and staff costs. The plan is to use that money to complete an environmental review process on the project and determine the “best project delivery method.”

New Yorkers have been waiting for a train connecting LaGuardia to the rest of the city for decades, but the plan to route the line through Willets Point has drawn sharp criticism from transit advocates across Gotham. Cuomo promised that the new transit option will “provide a guaranteed 30-minute ride to the airport from midtown’s two rail hubs, Grand Central and Penn Stations,” which isn’t much shorter than the subway-to-bus option that is already in place. 

Nonetheless, New York is getting this AirTrain whether it needs it or not, and the new funding approved on Thursday only pushes the project toward completion.

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