Dozens of Port Authority of New York New Jersey are speaking out about the non-sensical plan to build a train to nowhere from New York LaGuardia now that Governor Andrew Cuomo is resigning and it’s safe to do so.
”For too long, Gov. 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,” said a letter sent to Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton on Tuesday by dozens of staffers.
“The time has come to speak out and stand up for what is right.”
It calls for the Port Authority Inspector General to look into whether Cuomo exerted “undue influence” that prompted agency officials to “manipulate the federally-mandated Environmental Impact Statement process” to approve the LaGuardia AirTrain over proposed alternatives like a subway extension or dedicated bus lanes to the airport.
It all began when then-Vice President Joe Biden declared New York LaGuardia airport to be like “some third world country” in 2014. Together Biden and Cuomo got a plan for the airport fast-tracked. That got us a stunning Central Terminal but a new building and high-end retail does nothing to solve the three most important things an airport does,
- Get you there quickly
- Get you through quickly
- Get you up in the air and back down quickly
There’s no new runway, and airspace remains congested in normal times because no real progress has been made modernizing air traffic control. We were supposed to get a seamless transit option to Manhattan. Instead, we got a more expensive than planned white elephant: a plan to connect New York LaGuardia airport to Manhattan by train 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. And under the Biden administration (since it all started with Biden) the FAA has granted approval even though the FAA knew the Port Authority of New York New Jersey was fudging its analysis
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.
Cuomo was preparing for a ribbon cutting on the project, but it’s effectively giving up. It was deemed the best option because it was the option that could be done at least with enough strong-arming by Cuomo – because the U.S. has become bad at doing major infrastructure projects.