FAA Issues Decision on LaGuardia AirTrain Environmental Review
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today issued its decision on the environmental review for the proposed construction of the LaGuardia Airport (LGA) AirTrain. This final step, referred to as the Record of Decision, allows the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to proceed with its proposal to construct a rail system to provide a reliable transit option for air travelers and employees at LGA. The Port Authority will now be able to submit a future application for funding under the Passenger Facility Charge program.
Port Authority has planned the AirTrain to connect LGA to the New York City Transit Subway 7 Line and the Long Island Rail Road Port Washington Branch at Mets-Willets Point. There will also be passenger walkways connecting to the LGA Central Hall, a parking garage connector, public transportation and ground transportation facilities.
The FAA held two virtual public workshops and three virtual public hearings in September 2020 on the draft environmental review. The meetings had a combined viewership of over 18,000 people, and the public provided over 4,200 comments. Participants were able to request interpreters for a variety of languages for all these meetings. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was released on March 19, 2021 and contained responses to the comments received.
Eighteen different federal, state and local agencies have provided input throughout the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process based on their expertise and authorities.
The FAA prepared the environmental review because the Port Authority plans to request funding for the AirTrain through the Passenger Facility Charge program. The program allows for the collection of fees added to passenger tickets. Those proceeds can be used on certain qualifying airport projects, subject to FAA approval.
The FAA prepared the FEIS in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), which requires the FAA to analyze alternatives and identify and disclose the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project. During the NEPA process, the FAA looked at 47 alternatives, more than half of which were identified by the public during the scoping process. These options were evaluated to see if they met the purpose and need of the proposed action and if they would be reasonable to construct and operate.