QUEENS, N.Y. — The Federal Aviation Administration approved the proposed LaGuardia Airport AirTrain on Tuesday, despite pushback from surrounding communities and environmental advocates.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who unveiled plans for the AirTrain in 2015, said the project will offer an “efficient, and affordable transit connector” to one of the state’s busiest transportation hubs.
“The new LaGuardia Airport—the first new airport in the United States in over 25 years and the front door to New York—deserves a reliable, efficient, and affordable transit connector worthy of its destination. With the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval today of the LaGuardia AirTrain, that’s exactly what New Yorkers will get,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This is the culmination of years of advocacy by this administration and a key moment in our efforts to rebuild New York’s infrastructure for the future. As we come out of the COVID crisis, our state and our country have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in a resilient, transformative, and interconnected future, and today’s announcement is a testament to our ‘all aboard’ commitment to seizing it, in partnership with the Biden administration and Secretary Buttigieg.”
The Airtrain, which will connect LaGuardia to the No. 7 train and the Long Island Rail Road at Mets-Willets Point, has been a divisive project in Queens for years. While the Cuomo administration touted the train as necessary infrastructure that will better connect the city, residents in surrounding areas raised concerns about the project’s impact on their communities. Activists also sounded the alarm about potential negative effects on the environment.
Another criticism was that some New York City residents will have to travel east to get to Mets-Willets Point, then backtrack slightly northwest to get to LaGuardia. However, the FAA has said alternatives, including a subway extension or busway, would not work.
The FAA held hearings last year as it conducted an environmental review. Eighteen federal, state and local agencies provided input and the public provided over 4,200 comments before the agency reached its decision.
With FAA approval, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey can move forward with an application for federal funding.