FAA Releases LaGuardia AirTrain Final Environmental Impact Statement
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the LaGuardia Airport Access Improvement Project (AirTrain). The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is proposing to construct a rail system to provide a reliable transit option for air travelers and employees at LaGuardia Airport (LGA).
The FAA prepared the FEIS 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, with those proceeds being used on certain qualifying airport projects, subject to FAA approval. Eighteen different federal, state and local agencies have provided input throughout the EIS process based on their expertise and authorities.
The AirTrain involves construction of an approximately two mile long elevated rail system with three stations: two on airport and one off airport. The stations connect with 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, which provides access to Terminal B and C, parking garages, public transportation, and ground transportation facilities.
The FAA prepared the FEIS in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 which requires the FAA to identify and disclose the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project. The agency looked at 47 alternatives, more than half of which were identified by the public during scoping for the EIS. The alternatives 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.
The AirTrain Draft Environmental Impact Statement was released for public review in August 2020 and the FAA held two virtual public workshops and three virtual public hearings in September 2020. The meetings had a combined viewership of over 18,000 people and the public provided over 4,200 comments. The FEIS contains responses to the comments received.
The agency will publish its Record of Decision after 30 days. The FEIS Notice of Availability is published in the Federal Register. If the FAA approves the project, construction of the AirTrain is expected to begin in June 2021 and be completed in December 2025.