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LaGuardia-Manhattan link considered unlikely by MTA

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A subway link to LaGuardia Airport from Manhattan has fallen far down the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s priority list as the agency concentrates on rebuilding the World Trade Center hub and a possible one-seat rapid transit ride to Kennedy Airport.

“We’re not happy to hear this,” said Dan Andrews, spokesman for Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. “But we plan to meet with MTA officials soon to get more information about it.”

Tom Kelly, chief spokesman for the MTA, was asked whether the LaGuardia subway link was now dead last among major transit projects.

“I would not want to categorize things to that extent, but it is quite a ways down the list,” Kelly said.

Kelly said the LaGuardia connection trailed such projects as the Second Avenue Subway, the East Side Access to bring Long island Rail Road trains into Grand Central Terminal as well as the extension of the No. 7 train to the Javits Center on Manhattan’s far west side.

MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow said recently the agency had been directing its attention to development of a massive transit hub near the World Trade Center site and an accompanying mass transit link to Kennedy. The AirTrain from JFK is nearing completion, but it will require Manhattan-bound passengers to switch to the Long Island Rail Road or a subway from Jamaica station or the Howard Beach stop.

There is strong interest in establishing a one-seat ride between Lower Manhattan, JFK and perhaps even Long Island.

Kalikow said the MTA had not dismissed the LaGuardia connection completely but that other projects had become more important.

The MTA has set aside $645 million for the LaGuardia connection and the money cannot be used for anything else.

Kelly said that before the funds specified for the LaGuardia project could be used elsewhere, the MTA would have to approve an amendment to rules of the capital spending plan.

The MTA has spent $17 million on studies of the LaGuardia subway link but so far has managed only to narrow the number of plans for it to four from nearly a score of submitted proposals.

Of the plans put forward, several would involve the N line, which begins at Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria and runs down through Manhattan to Coney Island in Brooklyn.

Speaking of the LaGuardia subway connection, Andrews said “we feel this would be a very important economic benefit for Queens.

“There is some opposition, as there was to the AirTrain to Kennedy,” Andrews said. “But it seems to run quietly and we believe its benefits will be realized when it goes into service by Thanksgiving.”

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

Updated 7:18 pm, October 10, 2011
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