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Pataki to announce link between JFK, Manhattan

During the Jan. 7 speech Pataki also pledged to develop a "new job hub" at the Jamaica station of the AirTrain rail link, which connects the commercial district and mass transportation routes at the Sutphin Boulevard and 94th Avenue terminal to Kennedy Airport.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in cooperation with the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, is preparing four project proposals to link Lower Manhattan with Kennedy Airport in Jamaica, Pataki said.

"Later this month the LMDC, Port Authority and the MTA will announce four options to provide direct access from Lower Manhattan to JFK and Long Island," the governor said in his speech. "It is an ambitious project but one we must pursue if New York City is to join the ranks of Chicago, London and other central business districts that provide direct access to its airports."

The four plans will be subject to what Pataki called a "vigorous analysis," before a final choice is selected in April, he said. When a proposal is picked, concrete plans on how to fund and build the connection will also be announced, he said.

It was unclear if any of the plans would incorporate the AirTrain link that debuted last month in southern Queens. The AirTrain, opened Dec. 17, carries passengers from Kennedy Airport terminals and connects them to mass transportation lines in downtown Jamaica and Howard Beach.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Pataki pledged to develop a one-seat ride from Kennedy Airport to Manhattan. Critics have faulted the AirTrain for forcing passengers to transfer to Long Island Rail Road or subway lines to get into Manhattan.

Lower Manhattan was also slated to get improved transit access through the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub, which will link subway, train and ferry lines. It was unclear if the four options would link the Kennedy Airport connection through the redesigned hub.

Pataki also wants to create a job hub at the AirTrain's Jamaica station. Details on the job center were unavailable, but Pataki hopes to "build on the success of our AirTrain project," the governor said in his State of the State address.

"We always envisioned the Jamaica station as being more than just a building to provide transportation," said Pasquale DiFulco, a spokesman for the Port Authority. "While a lot of what we do appears to be transportation projects, it always has an economic redevelopment function to it."

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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