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LaGuardia Airport's proposed AirTrain moves forward

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The state is seeking partners for a new AirTrain connection to Willets Point

The possibility of the soon-to-be revamped LaGuardia Airport getting its very own AirTrain is now one step closer to becoming a reality. Earlier this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking a firm (or firms) to conduct “preliminary engineering and other planning work.”

The proposed AirTrain station at Willets Point would connect to the 7 line and a new Long Island Railroad station, as well as two new stations within the airport’s terminals. According to the RFP, providing this connection would allow passengers to get from Midtown to LaGuardia in under 30 minutes, and would “be a key part of the modernization and transformation of LaGuardia into a world-class airport.”

But the plan isn’t without its critics, many of whom see the connection to Willets Point, rather than one of Queens’s more densely-populated neighborhoods, as a wasted opportunity.

As the the Village Voice points out, studies have shown that an AirTrain to and from Willets Point will not be any better than some of the current transit options to LaGuardia—namely the MTA’s bus system, which connects to the busy Roosevelt Ave-74th Street subway station.

Cuomo, of course, disagrees, believing that the air rail will allow for a faster alternative and would allow developers to work within the “right-of-way” construction without facing the community opposition that the city was faced with when they once attempted to extend the N line to the airport.

The RFP also tasks applicants with conducting a “detailed ridership analysis,” coming up with a financial plan of sorts, and determining the best way to redesign the airport’s parking options while consolidating the rental car companies into a more efficient space. As for costs, in the past, Cuomo has claimed that the LaGuardia AirTrain would have a price tag of $450 million—though we all know how these things tend to go—and would be partially paid for using “existing funds.”

"We are transforming LaGuardia into a world-class transportation gateway, and an essential piece of the puzzle is ensuring rail mass transit access to the airport,” Cuomo said in a statement. “With this action, we're taking the next major step toward making this a reality.”

Proposals are being accepted until early March.

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