$2.1 billion AirTrain plan for La Guardia on hold

The brakes have officially been slammed on plans to build a $2.1 billion AirTrain for La Guardia airport.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that operates the airport, said Tuesday afternoon that it would “withhold further action” on the project, which former Gov. Andrew M. There was a heavy push by Cuomo.

Mr Cuomo’s successor, Governor Kathy Hochul, has called for a review of alternatives to the AirTrain plan, which has been the target of criticism from community groups and elected officials.

Among the complaints was that its out-of-the-way route would deter riders and that it would hurt property values ​​in areas around La Guardia in northern Queens.

Despite those objections, the Federal Aviation Administration gave its approval to the AirTrain plan in late July, clearing the way for the Port Authority to proceed.

But three weeks ago, two Queens-based community groups and RiverKeeper, an environmental group, sued to halt the project, arguing that the FAA exhausted some of the options without giving them due consideration.

The groups also asked the FAA to suspend approval of the project. The FAA gave the port authority until Tuesday to argue against granting the stay. The agency partly argued that Ms Hochul, who stayed for review, made the stay unnecessary.

“At the request of Governor Hochul, the Port Authority is conducting a thorough review of possible alternative mass transit options for La Guardia Airport,” the agency said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon. “The agency will work in close consultation with independent experts and stakeholders, and will complete its work as expeditiously as possible, requiring the review to be thorough and rigorous.”

Riverkeeper’s senior counsel Michael Dulong welcomed the review. “We are looking for the best transit option for the region and the one that has the least impact on local communities and the environment,” said Mr. Dulong.

Ms Hochul’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Calling last week for a review of “alternative mass transit solutions” that would reduce car traffic and increase airport access, Ms. Hochul said, “We must ensure that our transportation projects are bold, visionary and innovative. Meets the requirements. Yorkers.”

Before Mr Cuomo abruptly resigned this summer, after a state report found he had sexually assaulted several women, he pressured the port authority to develop a rail link to La Guardia. .

The airport’s ongoing overhaul was one of the governor’s pet projects. While he was in office, some other elected officials publicly opposed the air train plan, even as the estimated cost rose from $450 million to $2.1 billion in just a few years.

All of its funding was to come from the Port Authority, which is jointly controlled by the governors of New York and New Jersey, and added fees to plane tickets. AirTrain riders will be charged the fare as they are on the AirTrain at Kennedy International Airport. The current price to ride is $7.75.

But once Mr Cuomo was out of power, some elected officials were encouraged to call for the AirTrain plan to be reconsidered, or abolished altogether.

Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters during a recent briefing in the city, “We were dealing with an unusual situation all along: a governor who wouldn’t work with anyone, who instilled a culture of fear, that projects Ran through, whether it’s good or bad.” Hall. “And now we get a chance to see this thing in the clear light of day.”

One of the most common criticisms of the project was its so-called wrong path. To get to Manhattan, arriving passengers must head farther east from the airport, to a station near Citi Field, before they can return to the No. 7 subway line or the Long Island Rail Road.

Critics have also said that rising costs would make the project one of the most expensive rail lines in the world.

In their defence, Port Authority officials emphasized that the chosen line running from Willetts Point along the Grand Central Parkway would be the least disruptive to residential neighborhoods. He said the option, including the extension of the N metro line from Astoria, would require taking private property.

With the Metro expansion, which will have to be built by the financially troubled Metropolitan Transportation Authority, other options include express bus service, ferries or a more direct route AirTrain.

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