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On Monday, November 4, the Federal Aviation Authority released the results of a series of strongly criticized public forums, and the comment period that followed, on his plan to build an automated AirTrain system from Willets Point Long Island Rail Road station to LaGuardia.
The agency has received comments from 255 residents who oppose the existing AirTrain plan and 55 who support it. Critics ranged from the process the agency chose for its environmental investigation to how the proposed plan would appeal to wealthier communities, without benefiting local residents.
The most popular sub-topic for responses was metro line 7. A total of 185 residents complained about capacity issues, overcrowding and deterioration of train 7 infrastructure.
It is not very clear from the documents released by the FAA whether these commentators are arguing that AirTrain will address this issue or not, but rather that residents have argued that these concerns should form the basis of any plan that comes to fruition.
Commentators said the train lacks the capacity to handle additional passengers, especially those with baggage.
The second most common sub-theme was the socio-economic impacts of AirTrain. Due to the large minority and low-income population in the neighborhoods surrounding LaGuardia, respondents argued that these communities were engaged in the investigative process and benefited from it in the long term.
Residents criticized the FAA for not doing enough to engage the community. They complained that the scoping documents were not presented in enough languages for the local community.
They also pointed out that the area immediately south of the airport is located in a transit desert, which would be best served by a metro connection.
The other environmental objection to the plan related to the impact of the AirTrain route on Flushing Bay, the Flushing Bay promenade and the World’s Fair Marina. Stakeholders feared that the project would cut them off from these natural elements and that construction could contaminate them.
However, the feedback was not all negative.
A popular alternative to the AirTrain plan involved an extension of the N / W metro from Astoria Boulevard station. A total of 105 respondents wrote about this in their responses – more than any other proposed alternative. This alternative involves the construction of an elevated metro structure on the Astoria line that would provide two-way service along the residential area.
Stakeholders pointed out that the N / W line has a higher capacity than line 7 and has been recently renovated.
In response to the release of the scoping report, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) and the Better Way to LGA Coalition have issued statements that they welcome the comments and will take them into consideration as they arise. as they progress.
“A Better Way to LGA also looks forward to continuing the ongoing dialogue with the community as we learn more about the Port Authority’s vision to build this essential rail link without moving homes or businesses,” wrote Tom Grech, co-chair of A Better Path to LGA.
A spokesperson for the PANYNJ said that while the FAA’s environmental review has included several community forums to date, there will be additional meetings with the public and elected stakeholders before the federal review concludes.
To view the full report, click here.