The LaGuardia AirTrain seems to be inching ever-closer to becoming a reality, now with the support of New York lawmakers. On Monday, the state assembly introduced legislation that authorizes the state’s Department of Transportation to seize public land to construct new airport link, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Under the new legislation, the New York state DOT would have the power to take land within a two-mile-long corridor, located between LaGuardia and the Long Island Rail Road’s Mets-Willets Point station, if needed. The move comes after local residents called for the forthcoming AirTrain to be moved further from their homes, leading the Port Authority to look into alternative routes.
Per the WSJ, the Port Authority notes that the corridor does not cut through private property and that eminent domain would only be necessary if they need to build on land that is currently controlled by city and state agencies.
In a statement to Curbed, the Port Authority stated:
As we continue the planning stage, it’s critical that we do so with full community input. We have conducted numerous meetings with elected officials, community groups and other key stakeholders to gather input regarding the AirTrain’s potential routes in advance of a formal environmental review, and we continue to actively solicit their comments,” State legislation currently being discussed would define a corridor within which an AirTrain could be potentially constructed in the future and would allow for alternatives within that corridor to be considered as part of an extensive environmental review process with required public involvement. Any proposed route cannot be finalized until the environmental review, which will be led by the Federal Aviation Administration, is completed.
Meanwhile, community groups have united to express their opposition to the project. On Tuesday, the East Elmhurst Corona Alliance, the Ditmars Blvd. Block Association, and Riverkeeper released a joint statement denouncing the construction of the AirTrain.
“Simply stated, I believe this project will negatively impact our quality of life for a service that is not needed,” said Frank Taylor, a longtime East Elmhurt resident and the president of the Ditmars Blvd. Block Association. “I also call to question the large taxpayer investment with no economic upside for our community or the State.”
On the contrary, Governor Andrew Cuomo argues that the $2 billion project is an essential part of “transforming LaGuardia into a world-class transportation gateway, and...ensuring rail mass transit access to the airport.”