News > News > NYC Waterways > LaGuardia AirTrain: Riverkeeper joins Port Authority staff’s call for investigation

LaGuardia AirTrain: Riverkeeper joins Port Authority staff’s call for investigation

Agency’s Inspector General should look into Governor Cuomo’s “undue influence” over the project

Following Governor Cuomo’s announcement yesterday that he would resign from office, dozens of Port Authority staff members demanded a halt to the proposed AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport and an investigation into “undue influence” from the Governor’s office, the Daily News reported.

Riverkeeper has raised numerous concerns about the project’s biased environmental review, which avoided consideration of potentially superior transit alternatives. A Riverkeeper lawsuit unearthed a letter reflecting that the Federal Aviation Administration, which was charged with approving the project, had its own misgivings. If allowed to move forward, AirTrain construction would require the condemnation of waterfront parkland along Malcolm X Promenade on Flushing Bay in the community of East Elmhurst, Queens.

“It’s telling that even those within the ranks of Port Authority are alleging undue influence over the project and calling it a waste of money. That they had to wait until six years after it was initially proposed shows a culture of disingenuousness and fear of retaliation within the agency. It was brave of those staff members to come forward,” Riverkeeper Senior Attorney Mike Dulong said. “We join the staff’s request for the Port Authority Inspector General to investigate any wrongdoing. We look forward to working with incoming Governor Hochul to get to the bottom of this and ensure smart design of transit infrastructure for the benefit of our communities and our environment.”

According to the Daily News, staff members wrote in an August 10 letter:

“For too long, Governor Cuomo and his staff have repeatedly pushed the agency to make non-transparent, politically motivated decisions, including decisions that squander the trust and money of our bondholders, customers, and the general public.”

The letter calls on the agency to immediately “Halt all priority projects pushed by Governor Cuomo’s office, particularly the LaGuardia AirTrain, in order to conduct a thorough review of their viability and cost-effectiveness. In addition, the Office of the Inspector General should conduct an investigation to determine whether undue influence from Governor Cuomo’s office led staff at the Port Authority to manipulate the federally-mandated Environmental Impact Statement process in order to disregard community input and guarantee the selection of Governor Cuomo’s predetermined preferred alternative.”

Media contact: Leah Rae, [email protected]

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