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First contracts awarded for LaGuardia AirTrain project

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As the LaGuardia Airport reconstruction project got underway June 1, some groundwork was laid for the proposed AirTrain that would bring travelers to and from Willets Point.

At the end of May, the MTA awarded a $7.5 million contract for preliminary engineering work at two stations, which is expected to be completed in a year, to pave the way for major enhancements at both and prepare the MTA to collaborate with the Port Authority as planning for the AirTrain moves forward.

The first contract, valued at $4.6 million, is for work at the Long Island Rail Road’s Mets-Willets Point Station and was awarded to STV Inc. The second contract is valued at $2.9 million and deals with the Willets Point Station on the No. 7 subway line. It was awarded to HDR Architecture and Engineering PC.

“The preliminary engineering work we’re doing at the two Willets Point stations is the first step in a plan to dramatically enhance both stations,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said. “It will also enable us to be ready to work with the Port Authority as planning for the LaGuardia AirTrain moves forward, which we see as critically important.”

The scope of the preliminary work will include plans for lengthening the LIRR station’s platform to accommodate 12-car-long trains for greater service capacity, as well as Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility.

For the modernized No. 7 subway station, the preliminary engineering work will set the stage for newly designed mezzanines with state-of-the-art electronics and communications, full ADA-compliant accessibility, and improved passenger flow for both events and normal service.

In January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the $450 million project, whichwould build the 1.5-mile rail line to run alongside the Grand Central Parkway “so it wouldn’t create an undue burden on any of the neighboring structures.” He said the state had the cash to fund the project from sources, including a $5 billion windfall from settlements with big banks.

“You can’t get to LaGuardia by train,” Cuomo said. “That is inexcusable and that is going to change.”

It was not known when the construction of the AirTrain would begin, but a spokeswoman from the governor’s office suggested it would start towards the end of the $4.2 billion LaGuardia Airport reconstruction project.

“The proposed AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport, similar to the existing one for JFK International Airport, will greatly improve access to the airport,” state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said. “The AirTrain will connect passengers and visitors directly with the 7 train line and the LIRR, and it would, hopefully, reduce traffic on the already congested roads and expressways.”

A Port Authority survey in 2008 showed that 75 percent of travelers from Manhattan used a taxi or car service to reach LaGuardia Airport while only 16 percent rode buses or shared a van.

“This is another step to bring our airport into the new century,” Peralta said.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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Reader feedback

AMH says:
This is such a waste of money. It may offer a more comfortable travel option, but by going in the wrong direction it will take longer than the current buses. Extending the Astoria Line (as proposed decades ago) is a far superior alternative that should be reconsidered.
July 28, 2016, 8:47 am
Craig from Bushwich says:
The Robert Moses of our day: spending vast sums on things that aren't going to really help
July 28, 2016, 8:54 am
Rob from NY says:
Please say it ain't so. This is the worst possible option, making the trip longer than the current bus. Wouldn't extending the N train along the GCP be a more productive option?
July 28, 2016, 9:23 am
Guest from NYC says:
Extend the N train. Most people are going to want to travel to and from the city's core. You could add a couple stops along the way and improve subway service to that section of Queens too.
July 28, 2016, 9:27 am
RPC from Jackson Heights says:
THIS MAKES NO SENSE!!!

Why not extend the N train from Astoria/Ditmars Blvd. If that is not possible create the AirTrain link from the Astoria/Ditmars Blvd station to the airport.

This is the shortest route considering the majority of the flyers are traveling to and from Manhattan. Buses are already servicing the local neighborhoods in the area. No brainier.
July 28, 2016, 1:09 pm
New Yorker from Queens says:
The Astoria line was proposed to be extended to LGA in 2003, but NIMBYs said no, fearing noise and such. Existing buses already provide a quick route to transit connections. For example, coming from eastern Queens, I for one would not want to take a bus to the 7 or LIRR, and then transfer again to the AirTrain (and pay another fare). I'd just take the bus directly to the airport.
July 29, 2016, 10:32 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. says:
At least the Q70: The "Guiltiest Pleasure" of the entire MTA bus system in NYC, will be much faster for residents, tourists and employees, when it becomes SBS through the "LaGuardia Link" in September. And besides, the successful marketing campaign by the MTA towards this bus have been successful thus far because this bus route have led to major ridership increases along the entire route. There should be more buses with more frequency for this bus route. The overall costs of the Q70 is a fraction of the LGA Airtrain Boondoggle.
July 29, 2016, 12:09 pm
Tim from USA says:
Where exactly did this extra $5 billion from settlement with banks come from? Sounds like NY regulators got the windfall from bank wrongdoings against the entire American public. If so, the windfall should go to the entire public, not some train to a NYC airport.
July 29, 2016, 1:09 pm
Judith Garcia from Jackson heights says:
#7 train needs maintenance I'm a resident since 1966 and the
Train supports use to be painted regularly.
about 25 years have passed and the supports of # 7 train are peeling off and deteriorating.
How about keeping the #7 train running?
Aug. 5, 2016, 10:11 am

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