Anyone who has flown of out of New York’s LaGuardia airport knows it’s a mess. We are willing to be that there are times that people need more time to commute to the airport than the time their actual flight will be in the air. Without any rail link to the airport, travelers are forced to go by car.
If Gov. Andrew Cuomo has his way, a fix is in the works. The governor is backing a bill that would give his transportation department the right to seize public land along the path of the proposed train. Queens Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry introduced a bill on the governor’s behalf that would let the state use eminent domain to secure the corridor between Willets Point and LaGuardia.
The bill would allow for the alienation of a small piece of land on Citi Field’s parking lot. So far there is no sponsor for the bill in the Senate and no Republicans have commented to the press or anyone else. The Port Authority says that eminent domain will only be used on public property that is owned by Metropolitan Transportation Authority or New York City.
The “LaGuardia train” would run parallel to the 7 subway line at Flushing Meadows Corona Park and then along the “the edge of the Citi Field parking lot previously alienated for stadium use,” according to the bill, and, finally, along the Grand Central Parkway to the airport. The proposed bill does not have the final path of the Air Tran, according to the Port Authority, but it does contain various options to be considered. The final path would be confirmed based on environmental reviews and input from the community.
Governor Cuomo is positioning himself to make major marks on New York’s infrastructure. Currently, he is spearheading an $8 billion public-private partnership to rebuild the airport’s terminals and he is focused on an Air Train to LaGuardia.
As to be expected, there are critics. Some say the proposed line is too indirect, while others are waiting to hear more about the costs and results of a study on how many riders would use it. Supporters of the proposal include the Queens Chamber of Commerce and several other business groups.
We are pretty sure that the plan will receive support from commuters who most likely plan their flights more on highway traffic patterns than convenient times of travel. As Thomas Grech, the Chamber’s president, at the Port Authority’s most recent board meeting said, “Anyone who lives or works in Queens County knows the highway system is already over capacity during peak hours. Putting travelers on rail and taking cars off the road will primarily benefit those who work and live in Queens.”