In 2015 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a plan to connect New York LaGuardia airport to Manhattan by train. It was a hair-brained scheme designed to sail through approvals quickly, not deliver the best transit option to New Yorkers and visitors.
- They’d build a 1.5 mile train from the airport to the Willets Point station. This meant going the opposite direction of the city to connect to other existing trains – the 7 subway and Long Island Rail Road.
- The price tag was estimated at $450 million. It’s already up over $2 billion.
After billions of dollars LaGuardia would lack a direct train to the city, and wouldn’t even be efficiently connected. But the plan involved inconveniencing relatively few residents. That, combined with the political firepower of the governor and – at the time – the Obama administration seemed like they could accomplish something even if it was a second (or fourth) best.
Now she’s sent a letter to the assistant administrator of the FAA demanding to know why this Governor’s plan was approved and 46 alternatives rejected. The reason, of course, is simple: it had the least and least effective opposition, and was less costly. The least opposition, at least, until Ocasio-Cortez spoke up.
To be sure, the plan is a hair-brained one. There won’t be a direct link to the city. It’ll take passengers away from the city before sending them back to it. And it’ll add congestion to the already crowded 7 line, trading airport road congestion for public transit congestion. Complaints about the plan though merely prevent anything from being done.
We’re looking at this as the best available option because we’re bad at doing major infrastructure projects in this country. And Ocasio-Cortez’s opposition, four and a half years in, illustrates why that is.