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LaGuardia AirTrain moves forward as engineering firm signs on

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The AirTrain is expected to cost $1.5 billion over the next 10 years

Following the release of the request for proposals (RPF) in February, Governor Andrew Cuomo has now selected Parsons Brickerhoff Inc. to carry out some early engineering and planning work for an AirTrain that would connect LaGuardia Airport to the Willets Point station, the New York Daily News reports.

"LaGuardia Airport is an essential part of New York’s economy and transportation network, and by providing additional transit options we will support new economic opportunities and growth throughout the region,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Part of Parsons Brinckerhoff’s mandate will require the firm to analyze the creation of two new AirTrain stations at the new terminal buildings, part of the redevelopment of the airport. In addition, they will also plan to construct a new AirTrain station at Willets Point, that will allow for easy transfers to the 7 train and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR).

The Governor estimates that once these connections are in place, the airport will be a 30-minute ride from Grand Central and Penn Stations.

Many critics of the proposal have questioned this estimate. Yonah Freemark, a transport blogger at Transport Politic, who spoke with the Daily News, questioned why the AirTrain wasn’t connecting to Jackson Heights instead. Under the current proposal, commuters would have to travel more east to Willets Point, and then travel back to LaGuardia.

The Governor’s office has argued that this is the best way to move forward because it does not require any eminent domain proceedings to obtain the land to build the stations or tracks, according to the Daily News.

In the next few months Parsons Brinckerhoff will also conduct a detailed ridership analysis, create cost estimates and conceptual designs for the station and the train. The project is expected to cost $1.5 billion with $500 million coming from the federal government or through private funding, according to the Daily News. The project will likely take 10 years to be up and running.

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