FAA Approves Circuitous, Controversial LaGuardia AirTrain Proposal

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, almost driven out of office by scandal earlier this year, has won a legacy project six years in the making.

July 21, 2021, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


LaGuardia Airport

ERIC SALARD / Flickr

"A plan to build a $2.1 billion AirTrain to La Guardia cleared its biggest remaining hurdle with approval from the Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday," reports Patrick McGeehan.

The LaGuardia AirTrain's approval is enough for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airport, to tell the media that construction could start before the summer is over.

McGeehan frames the approval as a victory for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a defeat for Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat who represents parts of Queens and managed to delay the project briefly earlier this year. Other opponents of the project include Riverkeeper and a host of transit advocates who say the money would be better spent on other projects.

"Critics have also targeted the AirTrain’s indirect route. To get to Manhattan, which is west of La Guardia, travelers would have to go the opposite way first — riding east to connect to the subway or a commuter train at a station next to CitiField, the baseball stadium where the Mets play," explains McGeehan.

The project was approved with a price tag more than quintupled since the original estimate of $450 million. "The agency hopes to use fees collected from passengers at the airports it runs to help it pay for the AirTrain, but the F.A.A. has not yet approved that idea," according to McGeehan.

The AirTrain approval made the news in numerous other local media outlets, including the New York Post and Crain's New York Business.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021 in The New York Times

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