NEW YORK (AP) – After weeks of criticism from public officials and lawsuits from neighborhood and environmental groups, a $2 billion project to build a rail link connecting New York City to LaGuardia Airport was officially halted on Tuesday.
In a news release, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it is pausing the project to consider alternatives.
In recent weeks, Democratic New York Governor Cathy Hochul has criticized the project, which was championed by her predecessor Andrew Cuomo. Democratic Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the part of the region the link will pass through, has also spoken out against it, as has outgoing New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued an environmental clearance in July, but recently asked the port authority to reconsider in light of lawsuits filed by neighborhood and environmental groups.
“At the request of Governor Hochul, the Port Authority is conducting a thorough review of possible alternative mass transit options for LaGuardia Airport,” the news release said.
Initial construction on the approximately $2 billion, 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) elevated link was to begin this year.
Public and transit officials have sought for years to build a rail link to LaGuardia, which opened more than 80 years ago and is one of the few major US airports without rail service. In a preliminary report last year, the FAA said it had reviewed dozens of other proposed options, including ferry service, improved bus service and the expansion of subway service to the airport.
The monorail was the best option because it provides “a time-fixed transportation option and supplemental access” to the airport and will reduce vehicular traffic, the FAA wrote in July. The FAA also concluded that the project was “reasonable for construction and operation given cost considerations” and would not affect metro or rail service during construction.
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Critics opposed the plan, saying it would negatively affect the neighborhoods of Queens and would not be significantly faster than driving as it would require trains or subway service from points east or west to Citi Field, home of New York City. will involve taking you to the K stop. York Mets, then switching to rail links.
In a lawsuit filed last month, environmental and neighborhood groups called on the FAA to request the Port Authority to halt the project, alleging that it was moved too quickly by Cuomo and the Port Authority and was not meaningful to many. Arbitrary screening criteria were used to pre-empt the idea. Rail link options
Some of those options include ferry service, extension of existing metro lines and customized bus service using dedicated lanes.
Michael Dulong, an attorney for Riverkeeper Inc., one of the groups that filed the lawsuit, said Tuesday that the group does not oppose the project per se, but wants a more thorough review.
“It’s going to take parkland from an environmental justice community,” he said. “We just want to make sure this is the right project for New York City.”
Port Authority officials said last year that the plan would not require the taking of any public property and that the initial proposed path of the rail link was moved north, away from a neighborhood that is close to the airport. From sits at Grand Central Parkway.
Other critics had said that the rideability of the Link would not be enough to justify the higher price tag. A study by the Port Authority projected a ridership of 17,000 people per day in 2026 and a little over 18,000 by 2031; The FAA forecasts daily ridership of 13,000 people by 2026 and 14,000 by 2031.