New York — The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has taken steps to begin a formal environmental review for the proposed AirTrain LGA project by seeking proposals for consultants to manage the public review process, which is under the oversight of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The environmental impact statement (EIS), which is required by the National Environmental Policy Act, will provide multiple opportunities for public input and examine all potential effects and mitigation measures of the proposed airport rail-link from LaGuardia Airport in Queens to both the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and New York City Transit (NYCT) subway system. It will also further study a range of alternatives to meet the stated goals of providing better access to New York City origins and destinations for passengers via shorter and more reliable-travel times to and from the airport.
Travel times to LaGuardia Airport via automobile have gone up in recent years and have become highly unpredictable due to increased congestion, which is projected to worsen in the coming years.
“As is the case with any critical infrastructure project, public input and a thorough evaluation of all alternatives is paramount,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “Our goal is to provide LaGuardia Airport passengers with a convenient, reliable world-class rail connection with travel times below 30 minutes from midtown Manhattan. We’re grateful for the invaluable community input that has guided our planning thus far and look forward to additional engagement as the FAA proceeds with the formal environmental review.”
Once the environmental consultant is selected, the review will commence with a Notice of Intent and scoping, the process used to determine the appropriate contents of an EIS. Public participation including a public hearing process is an integral part of scoping, which will be formally announced and widely publicized to solicit comments about what should be included such as relevant local issues, alternatives, and mitigation measures. Additional opportunities for review and comment will occur once a Draft EIS is prepared and made available for a minimum of 45 days, including an additional public hearing process. The FAA will conclude the process with the issuance of a Record of Decision on the project.
The FAA will be the lead agency responsible for overseeing the EIS in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
To support the environmental review and assist in the selection of the consultant, the Port Authority submitted to the FAA a set of initial documents including 1) its analysis of a wide range of alternatives that are on the table as part of the review process; 2) an examination of projected ridership of AirTrain through a passenger preference survey and a ground choice access model; 3) a study on increased traffic congestion between LaGuardia Airport and Midtown Manhattan, the airport’s largest passenger market.
The RFP and supporting documents can be found here.