A planned 2.4 kilometer (1.5 mile) elevated rail link to connect LaGuardia Airport in Queens to the rest of New York City, set to begin construction this year, has officially been put on hold, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced Wednesday morning (Oct 13).
LaGuardia, built 80 years ago, is one of the few major US airports without rail service.
While mulling the plans in July, the Federal Aviation Administration wrote that the rail link was the best of myriad options because it provides “a time-certain transportation option and supplemental access” to LaGuardia that would also reduce vehicular traffic. The project, said the FAA, is “reasonable to construct and operate given cost considerations.”
However, the $2 billion project is the subject of a lawsuit by neighborhood and environmental groups, including Riverkeeper Inc., who say it would negatively impact the Queens neighborhoods through which it would run. The plaintiffs also contend the rail line would not be appreciably faster than driving by car, since one would still have to take a train or subway to the stop at CitiField (home of the NY Mets) before switching to the rail link.
The groups don’t necessarily oppose the project totally – they say they just want a more thorough review, according to Associated Press. The lawsuit has prompted the FAA to ask the Port Authority to reconsider its approval.
There have been weeks of criticism from public officials, including from New York Governor Kathy Hochul, US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) – who represents part of Queens where the rail would run – and outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The project was initiated by former NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, Hochul’s predecessor.