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Port Authority should not hasten the environmental review process for the LaGuardia AirTrain project


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LaGuardia AirTrainThe Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced a plan on Thursday for a formal environmental review for the proposed LaGuardia AirTrain project with a timeline of just one year, an inadequate amount of time considering that projects of similar scope have required much lengthier reviews. The timeline for the environmental review process for the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge connecting Westchester and Rockland Counties, for example, spanned 21 months. The JFK AirTrain environmental review spanned three years.

Before investing more than $1.5 billion to construct such a massive infrastructure project through a heavily populated community, the public deserves a meaningful opportunity to help ensure the transit strategy for the region has minimal impact on local communities and their environment.

The traffic and alternatives analyses published by Port Authority today have not undergone public review. These plans should not be taken seriously until they have been fully vetted by experts and community members. Independent transit experts have already stated that Port Authority’s plan would increase time and cost of to get to LaGuardia over existing subway and bus services.

The Port Authority’s preferred LaGuardia AirTrain route, from Willets Point to LaGuardia Airport, will require alienation of parkland and obstruct more than a quarter of the existing Flushing Bay promenade in an area already starved of park space and hemmed in by highways. It will span a 2,100 foot stretch of the waterfront esplanade from the 27th Ave pedestrian bridge to the 31st Drive bridge. Meanwhile a growing coalition of community and environmental advocates has plans to restore Flushing Waterways, and the preferred route would make their vision plans to improve the park impossible.

“The Port Authority seems focused more on the date for the ribbon cutting than on earning community support and conducting a meaningful environmental review,” said Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay. “It’s time for a real public discussion about the very serious issues that surround the Port Authority’s AirTrain plan.”


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