Tag Archives: LaGuardia Airport

LaGuardia Airport to get $4 billion, ’21st-century’ overhaul


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office

After Vice President Joe Biden compared it to a “third-world country,” LaGuardia Airport is getting a much-needed makeover bringing it to the 21st century and allowing New York City to start to once again lead in infrastructure.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was joined by Biden on Monday afternoon to announce that the Queens airport would be receiving a complete redesign taking it from a 1939 airport to a globally renowned, state-of-the-art facility.

“LaGuardia is slow. It’s dated. It’s a terrible front door entranceway to New York. It is a lost opportunity. It’s almost universally decried as a poor representation of an airport let alone a New York airport,” Cuomo said.

Bringing up the vice president’s comments last year that referred to LaGuardia Airport as a “third-world country,” Cuomo said that it served as a wake-up call to a city that at one point in history was leading the way in infrastructure.

“It was a strong, some would say prophetic vision, which I believe in many ways is an impetus to say to New York, ‘Get up, move.’ This is not acceptable and it’s not acceptable for New York,” Cuomo said about Biden’s comment.

LGAExistingSite RESIZED

An image of the current LaGuardia Airport.

In order to tackle the issue of the airport — which passengers have called dirty, cramped, hot and delayed — the governor appointed an advisory panel, led by Dan Tishman, to work with the Port Authority and come up with a new plan for LaGuardia.

After getting together and going over goals and obstacles, the group came up with the plan that would create an entirely new facility, replacing the current airport in its entirety. It would run adjacent to the Grand Central Parkway, 600 feet closer to the parkway than it is now. There would be more flight operating space, a world-class retail and hotel complex, and a unified terminal instead of the current isolated terminals. Later, there will be AirTrain and ferry access.

“The goal is not really to repair and rebuild a 1939 airport. We want an airport that is a state-of-the-art facility. We want a globally renowned airport for the next century that is worthy of the name New York and what we’re doing,” Cuomo said.

 Photo courtesy of Office of Gov. Cuomo - Kevin P. Coughlin

Photo courtesy of Gov. Cuomo’s office – Kevin P. Coughlin

The project is a $4 billion public-private sector partnership with more than 50 percent of the money being privately funded. The first half of the project is expected to break ground next year with new facilities approximately in 39 months, with all construction complete within 18 months thereafter. Delta has also agreed to be a partner in the new airport and will work to redevelop their two terminals — C and D — to work together with the unified terminal.

The airport will remain open and functional during the construction phase.

“This is the greatest city in the world. It’s not a hyperbole. It’s the greatest city in the world and it requires a 21st-century infrastructure,” Biden said. “The airport has a first-class workforce, and they deserve a first-class facility to serve customers who count on them.”


In response to the project plan, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said she recommends the Port Authority expands its Aircraft Noise program throughout construction phases of LaGuardia; creates a cellphone lot; and creates more short- and long-term airport parking.

“As much as LaGuardia and JFK International are tremendous economic assets to Queens and to the region, with them has come the need to mitigate the direct, daily impacts of growth upon the thousands of families immediately surrounding them,” Katz said. “When convening this blue-ribbon panel on which I have had the pleasure to serve, the governor charged us with ensuring that community needs are addressed, especially with regard to noise and alleviating traffic congestion.”

Along with LaGuardia, Cuomo also mentioned improvements that will take place at Stewart Airport in Newburgh, New York, to accommodate more commercial flights to reduce traffic at LaGuardia and JFK airports and make the airport a “New York Free Trade Zone”; renovations at JFk airport such as a historic renovation of the Saarinen building being constructed to a state-of-the-art hotel; and putting to use the Republic Airport also as a “New York Free Trade Zone.”

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Flushing development update: lack of space, increasing demand


| stephen.preuss@cushwake.com

Rendering courtesy of TDC Development International

In March, we discussed the development market in Flushing. Over the past couple of years, Flushing has been experiencing a rapidly increasing development market.

Approvals for multiple mega mixed-use projects were carried through — for example, the Willets Point project, Flushing Commons, and multiple hotel sites, including the Intercontinental Hotel at 36-18 Main Street, are in the development works.

Another topic of discussion in 2014 was potential upzoning for West Flushing, which would allow for increased residential development in order to provide for the dense flow of residents in Flushing. But although we have been seeing record pricing in 2015 as previously discussed, recently we have seen a lag in available land for development while demand is still rising.

Flushing has long been considered as a development Mecca in northern Queens. Its population is rapidly and consistently rising. Predominantly Asian, it is a thriving city for Asian culture, earning the name “the Chinese Manhattan.” Residential condos are selling at record prices — up to $700 per square foot for a two-bedroom condominium — and apartment rentals are seeing up to $2,000 and beyond per month for a one-bedroom. So it is no wonder downtown Flushing and its greater area has kept developers bullish over the potential.

Flushing Commons and the Willets Point project reach a square footage capacity upwards of 500,000 square feet. The amount of land left in Flushing to accommodate another project like that of Flushing Commons is significantly lacking.

We have been recently retained to sell 30-05 Whitestone Expwy. in Flushing. The site boasts 80,510 square feet of lot area with proposed plans for rezoning for a potential 523,315 buildable square feet for a mixed-use project or hotel development. Its location is within minutes from LaGuardia Airport and blocks away from downtown Flushing with great visibility from the Whitestone Expressway.

As previously discussed, the lack of space available has been a hindrance for developers — this site could serve as a rare opportunity for developers looking to capitalize on the little space Flushing has left.

Stephen R. Preuss is an executive director in the Capital Markets Group of Cushman & Wakefield, where he focuses on investment sales for various Queens neighborhoods. He has transacted in over $1 billion of investment and commercial real estate over his 15 year career. During his tenure, he has sold over 125 properties to date with an aggregate value of over $650 million.

Stephen Preuss

Stephen Preuss

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Airplane noise study to examine reach of aircraft noise


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Representatives from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) gave a presentation on the Part 150 Airport Noise Compatibility Studies for LaGuardia (LGA) and John F. Kennedy International (JFK) airports during Monday’s meeting of the Queens Borough Board at Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens.

“Part 150 of the Federal Regulations enable airport operators to undertake studies that provide the public with information about existing and future non-compatible land uses around airports and to create measures that reduce and prevent the introduction of new non-compatible land uses,” explained Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

This study will examine the levels of airplane noise around both LGA and JFK, create noise exposure maps (NEMs) for the areas and develop noise compatibility programs (NCPs) for impacted land uses within areas with levels of high noise.

“The Port Authority is conducting these two studies with the goal of finding potential mitigation measures to reduce levels of aircraft noise exposure that are deemed significant,” said Edward Knoesel, senior manager of environmental and noise programs for the Aviation Department at PANYNJ. “And that is the federal government that makes determination.”

The study aims to find how land is being used within high noise level areas around the airports. Certain land uses, such as a cargo factory, are acceptable in high noise level areas, while other land uses, such as residential buildings, should not be allowed there.

Information from all 2014 flight operations from the airports will be used to help create the NEMs, which will be presented to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2016. FAA regulations also require PANYNJ to also present a map for a forecast of operations five years into the future.

The NEMs use a day-night average sound level (DNL) to figure out how much noise is concentrated over each area. Certain land uses within the DNL 65, which is a day-night average of 65 decibels, are considered incompatible.

Once the noise impacts are assessed, measures to reduce aircraft noise and limit its impact on surrounding areas, through noise abatement or noise mitigation, will be considered. Noise abatement reduces noise from the source, in this case airplanes, and noise mitigation helps bring down noise levels inside of the structures themselves, through possible soundproofing building materials.

These options, along with others, will be explored in the NCP section of the study.

“The noise compatibility planning explores operational, that means how to move the aircraft, land use and administrative measures to minimize aircraft noise exposure in that area,” Knoesel continued. “The FAA approves individual measures…they may approve some, they may disapprove others.”

The FAA has 180 days to review the proposed measures and either approve, disapprove or request more time to examine the measures.

Once measures are accepted, implementation will begin.

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Port Authority selects group to build, manage LaGuardia Airport’s Central Terminal Building


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey finally announced Thursday the winning group for a $3.6 billion project to build and manage LaGuardia Airport’s new Central Terminal Building.

The bi-state agency selected LaGuardia Gateway Partners, a team comprised of Swedish construction firm Skanska, Vantage Airport Group and various financial firms. The group was selected over the other project finalist, which includes a team comprised of Tutor Perini Corp., Goldman Sachs Group, TAV Construction and other firms.

The Global Gateway Alliance, which supports improvements to the local airports, applauded the selection of the partnership, and called for the Port Authority to act quickly so the team can start the project to replace the more than five-decade-old building, known as Terminal B.

“A new terminal is the linchpin in finally changing LaGuardia’s reputation from ‘third world’ to world class,” the organization said in a statement. “But the project has already faced delays, so we urge the Port and the winning consortium to finalize the agreement quickly and get redevelopment underway so travelers don’t have to wait one day longer than necessary for a first-class experience at LaGuardia.”

The Port Authority was supposed to pick the group that would build and manage the terminal last year, but that selection was delayed because Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched a design contest for the terminal. The Port Authority hasn’t selected a winning design despite having announced the group that will build the terminal.

An advisory panel overseeing the redesign contest recommended that the new terminal include a central “great hall” to serve as the airport’s entry, a 100- to 200-room hotel in the airport, people-movers between terminals, and docking for a future AirTrain, which Cuomo announced earlier this year.

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Coyote spotted near LaGuardia Airport


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Brian Porter/Laura Süpper

The coyote sightings are continuing to grow in Queens as one of the wild creatures was spotted around LaGuardia Airport early Thursday morning.

According to a Port Authority Police Department spokesman, a USPS delivery person saw the animal in the vicinity of 82nd Street and Ditmars Boulevard, at the edge of the airport, at about 2 a.m.

Port Authority and NYPD units responded and reported that the coyote ran toward Elmjack Field, just west of airport grounds. The Port Authority and NYPD currently had no further information on any more sightings.

This is one of several coyote sightings in the borough in recent weeks.

On March 30, one was spotted on the rooftop of a Long Island City bar. Police and animal control tried to capture it, but it escaped.

And just last week, a coyote was caught in Middle Village. The 4-year-old female evaded capture the first day it was spotted, but was nabbed the following night in a local backyard.

Queens isn’t the only borough to experience a spike in coyote sightings.

Coyotes have also been seen in the last month running around Manhattan — including the Upper West Side, Chelsea and most recently Battery Park, where it was trapped after briefly running loose in the Lower Manhattan neighborhood.

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Flight crew tells investigators runway appeared ‘all white’ before LaGuardia skidding incident


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of FDNY

Flight crew from the Delta plane that skidded of a LaGuardia runway last week and struck a fence told investigators that the runway appeared “all white” just before landing and the plane did not seem to slow down properly.

The auto brakes were set to “max” but the pilots said they did not sense any “wheel brake deceleration” and the automatic spoilers, which are supposed to help slow down the plane, did not deploy properly, according to a report released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Monday.

As a result, the captain was unable to prevent the plane from veering left and slamming into a fence on the edge of Flushing Bay.

According to the report, the plane veered off Runway 13 about 3,000 feet from the approach end of the runway. About 4,100 feet from the approach end of the runway, the plane’s left wing struck the airport’s perimeter fence, and then around 5,000 feet from the approach end of the runway, the aircraft came to rest with its nose on an embankment.

All 127 passengers and five crew members had to be evacuated from the plane following the Thursday morning accident involving Flight 1086 from Atlanta. Twenty-three people received minor injuries and five people were taken to the hospital, officials said.

The incident also significantly damaged the plane, including its left wing, nose gear, main electronics bay and underside of its fuselage from the front of the aircraft all the way to back to the left front passenger door, according to the report. Officials also reported a fuel leak from the jet that was quickly brought under control.

The report also revealed more about the plane, which has had 71,195.54 flight hours and 54,865 flight cycles since Delta took delivery of it in December 1987.

Its last major maintenance visit took place on September 22, which was part of the plane’s regularly scheduled maintenance program, and included tests of the auto brake, anti-skid and auto spoiler systems. The last overnight service check was completed on March 2.

At a press briefing following the crash, Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye said the two planes that landed before Flight 1086 reported “good braking action,” and that the runway was plowed shortly ahead of the accident.

The report from the NTSB said that Flight 1086 based its decision to land on these reports of “good braking action” from air traffic control.

In the coming days, NTSB is planning on interviewing the flight crew of the Delta plane that landed three minutes prior on the same runway and examining its flight data recorder.

Following a preliminary reading of its flight data recorder, the NTSB will read out Flight 1086’s quick access data recorder on Tuesday and a meteorologist is examining weather conditions at the time of the accident.

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Chihuahua discovered at LaGuardia Airport after crawling into owner’s suitcase


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of TSA

Aye Chihuahua!

One sneaky little pup was not ready to be left at home while its owner took a trip, giving LaGuardia Airport workers an early morning surprise.

TSA officers at LaGuardia Airport found the unwanted passenger on Tuesday morning as they were screening luggage in the baggage area and a black hard-sided suitcase triggered an alarm requiring the bag to be inspected, according to authorities.

Inside the suitcase, which was supposed to go through Chicago with a final destination of Los Angeles, officers found a small beige and brown Chihuahua hiding among the contents.

TSA officials worked with the airline to find the owner of the luggage and reunite her with the dog. Just like the TSA officers, the owner was surprised to find her pet and said the pup must have climbed into the suitcase while she packed for her trip and curled up in the clothes.

The passenger then called her husband, who picked up the dog at the airport and took it back home.

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Plane skids off runway while landing at LaGuardia Airport


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Instagram/persian_persuasion

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND LIAM LA GUERRE

Updated 4:27 p.m.

As snow covered the area Thursday morning, a Delta plane skidded off the runway and crashed into a fence at LaGuardia Airport, coming to a stop just short of the water, officials said.

The incident involved Flight 1086 from Atlanta that landed in New York at about 11 a.m., according to the Port Authority.

As the aircraft was landing on Runway 13, it slid, veered left and slammed into a fence on the edge of Flushing Bay.

Photo courtesy of FDNY

Photo courtesy of FDNY

All 127 passengers and five crew members were safely taken off the plane, according to the Port Authority, and then reunited with their families or taken to their destinations. Two people were transported to the hospital, with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries.

Officials also reported a fuel leak from the jet that was quickly brought under control.

One of the passengers on the plane included New York Giants tight end Larry Donnell, who was unharmed in the crash and posted a video of the evacuation to his Instagram account.


“I’m blessed to be safe and sound after our plane skidded off the runway at LaGuardia Airport today,” Donnell said in a statement released by the team. “I feel fine physically and hopefully all the other passengers did not have any significant injuries. We were all shocked and alarmed when the plane started to skid, but most importantly, as far as I know, all of the passengers and flight crew were able to exit the plane safely.”

LaGuardia was closed following the accident, with one runway reportedly re-opening by about 2 p.m.

At a press briefing Thursday afternoon Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye would not comment on the cause and said the National Transportation Safety Board is on its way to investigate. He did say two planes that landed before Flight 1086 reported “good braking action,” and that the runway was plowed shortly ahead of the accident.

When asked about the decision to close the airport, Foye said the call was up to the FAA.

and… LaGuardia shuts down. A photo posted by kristina (@kristinagrossmann) on

 

Passengers trying to get home were stranded at LaGuardia due to sudden delays and cancellations.

Katrina Pattalitan’s 2 p.m. flight was delayed until 8 a.m. Friday. The Jacksonville, Florida resident planned on spending the night at the airport instead of looking for a hotel.

“I wished they canceled it when we were still in the hotel, because we would have known what to do today instead of staying here at night,” she said.

DSC_0019

Stranded passengers pass the time at the airport food court. (THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre)

Edith Kovacs and her son were trying to get home on a 3:30 p.m. flight to Toronto. But it had been pushed back to 10:30 a.m. Friday. The pair had no idea what to do with all their spare time and also decided to spend the night at LaGuardia.

“It’s nobody’s fault, it’s because of the weather,” Kovacs said. “Maybe they should have canceled flights earlier because [the plane accident] could have been worse.”

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First annual QNS Real Estate Conference features Port Authority director Patrick Foye


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Dominick Totino

It may have seemed like a cheap dig at the time, but Vice President Biden’s recent quip that LaGuardia Airport is fit for a Third World nation was on the money, said the man in charge of the city’s airports, Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye.

Foye, the keynote speaker at the first QNS Real Estate Conference on Thursday, sponsored by The Queens Courier, conceded that the city’s oldest airport is in need of a major overhaul — and he pledged that the revamp will get done.

“Queens has been a gateway to the world for more than 100 years,” Foye told more than 350 real estate executives who turned out for the breakfast forum at Terrace on the Park. “The only way to keep that moniker is to update and improve the borough’s airports.”

“Vice President Biden made a comment, which sadly I happen to agree with in large part, which is, that parts of LaGuardia look like a Third World nation,” Foye said.

This statement was made about the central terminal building in LaGuardia Airport. In response, the Port Authority is currently looking to do a redesign of that building.

The current terminal is decades old and vastly outdated. A redesign is greatly needed, Foye pointed out, and the Port Authority is working on getting that built.

“The central terminal building has long outlived its usefulness,” Foye admitted. He continued by saying that the central terminal building was “built for a different generation of aircraft and for a far smaller number of passengers coming through on an annual basis.”

Another project the Port Authority is focusing on is the creation of a proposed AirTrain to LaGuardia, connecting the airport to the Willets Point station for the No. 7 subway and the nearby Long Island Rail Road station.

Foye believes that a public transportation option from Midtown Manhattan to LaGuardia Airport will help reduce congestion on roadways and generate revenue for the city. He went on to talk about the Port Authority’s Capital Plan that funds major transportation projects in both New York and New Jersey.

“Last year the Port Authority board approved a capital plan of $27.6 billion over 10 years. That includes $8 billion for our airports, and $5 billion alone for JFK and LaGuardia,” he said.

Foye said the capital funds will be instrumental in making important strides in improving Queens’ airports.

There will be major runway projects conducted at JFK, the construction of a new electric substation at LaGuardia along with the completion of new parking structures at the airports, he explained.

With Queens being named the top U.S. tourist destination by Lonely Planet, the Port Authority is committed to updating the area airports to better receive and service those travelers.

The event, co-hosted by The Queens Courier and the Real Estate Board of New York, was focused on the current real estate boom taking place in the borough.

Borough President Melinda Katz, who opened the morning conference, said Queens is “the hot and on-the-move borough when it comes to real estate in the city of New York.”

She went on to explain some of the borough’s top assets driving the new real estate boon, including museums, cultural diversity and what she believes is the “biggest asset,” the aviation industry.

In 2014, more than 80 million travelers came through both of Queens’ airports, John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.

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FEMA approves $28M in flood protection projects for LaGuardia Airport


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

LaGuardia Airport is receiving a new level of protection to keep the facility and travelers safe from future storms such as Hurricane Sandy.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that FEMA approved over $28 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds to go toward helping LaGuardia Airport achieve post-Hurricane Sandy flood mitigation and resiliency initiatives.

“Hurricane Sandy caused significant damage to LaGuardia Airport, but today we are taking an important step toward strengthening its infrastructure so that it is more resilient than ever before,” Cuomo said. “To face the new pattern of extreme weather, we must ensure that vital transportation hubs and economic engines like LaGuardia Airport are ready for the next major storm.”

When Sandy hit the city, LaGuardia’s airfield suffered severe flooding from water rising from Flushing Bay. The airport had to remain closed for three days due to damage to key electrical airfield infrastructure. 

The over $28 million in funds will go toward projects, expected to continue through the end of 2016, such as the construction of a flood wall and rainwater pumping system, and development of two gravity drainage systems on the airfield to advance removal of water in case of flooding. 

The money will also fund upgrades to bring the airport’s backup electrical substations into the primary power system. There will also be improvements to existing emergency generators and installation of new backup generators throughout the airport. 

“We must do everything we can to ensure that LaGuardia is able to withstand extreme weather and resume flight operations as quickly as possible,” said Pat Foye, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive director. 

Since Sandy hit in 2012, resources have been put forth to protect the airfield runways, electrical systems and aeronautical equipment. FEMA’s new grant of $28,148,625 adds onto the agency’s previous grants of more than $2 million.

“While we continue to help communities across New York recover from the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy, it is equally as important to make much-needed investments in our infrastructure to ensure our city is prepared to face the challenges of any future storms,” U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowely said. “There is no question that one of those investments must include LaGuardia Airport, which serves tens of thousands of passengers a day and contributes greatly to our local economy.”

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Port Authority director, BP Melinda Katz, industry leaders to headline first QNS Real Estate Conference


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Real Estate Conference logo edit

Pat Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, will be the keynote speaker at the first QNS Real Estate Conference on Feb. 26.

As head of the bi-state agency that oversees the borough’s airports, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy, Foye is positioned to speak about the major transformation coming to the airports, including the proposed LaGuardia AirTrain, which Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced.

Foye, who was deputy secretary for economic development for Cuomo, headlines speakers from key firms in the real estate industry who will attend the networking event, which Star Network and The Queens Courier are hosting in association with the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY). Real estate website PropertyShark, Flushing Bank, Mattone Group and Meridian Capital Group are sponsoring the symposium.

“This event is a great opportunity for the public to learn about the latest trends and investment information in Queens from the top people in our industry,” said Jamie McShane, REBNY senior vice president for communications. “Queens is becoming increasingly important as we have seen projects from Astoria Cove to Hallets Point, and projects at Queens Plaza South and the LIC waterfront, as well as Willets Point. And the members of the REBNY are very involved with a growing number of exciting projects in Queens, our largest borough and the most ethnically diverse county in America.”

Borough President Melinda Katz, who branded Queens the “World’s Borough,” will deliver the opening remarks at the event, which will take place at Terrace on the Park at Flushing Meadows Corona Park and begin at 8 a.m.

Following Katz’s opening comments and Foye’s keynote speech, members of the real estate industry from top firms will break into three panel discussions.

The panels will focus on different themes of the real estate industry in the borough, such as why big investments are being made in Queens, experiences in the borough from real estate companies, and expert perspectives on developments in Ridgewood and nearby Bushwick.

“The Queens market has huge opportunity and this event will shed light on the power of the Queens real estate market,” said Josh Schneps, co-publisher of The Queens Courier. “Our goal is to inform people and network. This event is a perfect platform to do so for the industry. We hope people interested in the Queens market will attend and hopefully make investments in the borough.”

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Gov. Cuomo unveils proposal to build an AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Getting to LaGuardia Airport could get a whole lot easier.

Gov. Cuomo rolled out a proposal to build an AirTrain from the Willets Point No. 7 train station to LaGuardia Airport, similar to the train line now connecting John F. Kennedy Airport to the Long Island Rail Road’s Jamaica station and the Howard Beach A train station.

“You can’t get to LaGuardia by train today and that really is inexcusable,” Cuomo told several hundred of the city’s top business leaders during a speech before the Association for a Better New York at a Midtown hotel Tuesday morning. “That is going to change over the next several years.”

“We will construct an AirTrain that will connect with the route 7 subway line and the Long Island Rail Road at Willets Point and will take you into LaGuardia Airport. That is about a mile and a half construction. It will run along the Grand Central Parkway in an area that we believe won’t create an undue burden to any other neighboring structures,” Cuomo said.

The proposed train line is part of an ambitious array of proposals regarding LaGuardia that Cuomo will discuss in his upcoming State of the State speech. He is also calling for a high-speed ferry terminal connecting the airport with Manhattan and a major overhaul of terminals.

He called the rail link “truly long overdue.”

Cuomo downplayed the potential for disruption to neighboring communities, citing the proposed 1.5-mile route through what he described as largely industrial Willets Point and along the Grand Central Parkway. He did not mention the city’s plans to redevelop Willets Point.

The MTA has for more than a decade considered a rail link to LaGuardia. Previous proposals included extending the N and R line from Astoria to create a one-ride trip to the airport.

A LaGuardia AirTrain to the No. 7 line station at Willets Point would also create a connection with the Long Island Rail Road, expanding the potential service area of the project. But it would, like JFK’s rail link, require a transfer to make the trip.

The project would cost an estimated $450 million. But Cuomo  said he would “not venture a guess” about the timing for the project.

The 8-mile JFK AirTrain, built by the Port Authority, cost roughly $2 billion. Construction on that train began in 1998.

The announcement was praised by airport advocates.

“Despite the importance of our airports, key investments into their future have been consistently squeezed into the middle seat,” said Joe Sitt, chairman and founder of the Global Gateway Alliance, a independent advocacy group that is pushing for regional airport improvements.

“GGA has long called for faster mass transit to LaGuardia Airport, and shown how far behind other airports it is in terms of access. Governor Cuomo’s new plan to finally construct a direct rail ride to LaGuardia would be a huge relief for millions of passengers each year and finally put us on par with leading airports around the country and the world, ” Sitt said. “But let’s be clear: we do not need words or speeches; we need action — both on the state and federal level – to provide a budget and timeline quickly,” Sitt said.

Cuomo did not say which agency or public authority would be charged with building the AirTrain to LaGuardia. He shares control of the Port Authority with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and he would need the backing of the Garden’s State’s commissioners on the authority’s board.

Cuomo also controls the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. But the MTA is struggling to fund its current capital projects, including the Second Avenue Subway and the East Side Access connection for the LIRR at Grand Central Terminal.

The JFK Airtrain was funded in part with a $4.50 passenger facility fee that was charged by the Port Authority to airlines for outbound flights.

Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye and MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast, both Cuomo appointees, released a joint statement pledging support for the project.

“The Port Authority and the MTA are working closely to establish the scope, schedule and management of the LaGuardia AirTrain, just as they worked closely to create the successful JFK AirTrain.”

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Hotel near LaGuardia Airport sells for $14.5 million


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

A longtime hotel near LaGuardia Airport traded hands just before the end of the year.

New Jersey-based Sohn Properties LLC picked up Airway Inn at LaGuardia in East Elmhurst for $14.5 million from H.J.N. Hotels Corp., according to property records filed on Friday.

The hotel, located at 82-12 Astoria Blvd., has 58 rooms and is located less than a mile south of the airport across the Grand Central Parkway. Airway Inn offered complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport 24 hours a day.

Airway Inn was built in the early 1980s, according to city records, and H.J.N. has owned it since that time.

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LaGuardia and JFK airport design contests take flight


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The plan to modernize the borough’s airports is finally taking off.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is now accepting plans for the contests to redesign LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo first announced back in October.

Architects and designers can submit master plans for either or both airports. Final submissions are due on Jan. 30.

Cuomo hopes the plans submitted will be “bold and comprehensive.” Within the competition guidelines, emphasis is placed on certain design expectations for each airport.

Some interesting expectations mentioned include reviving ferry service to LaGuardia and creating an “Aerotropolis or Airport City” with office complexes, conference centers, and medical and warehousing facilities that have a nexus to JFK.

“Modern and accessible infrastructure is key to growing our state’s economy, and with this plan we’re bringing New York’s outdated airports into the 21st century,” Cuomo said. “By reimagining them from the ground up, we’re making an investment that will strengthen our state for years into the future.”

The Port of Authority board of commissioners will judge the contests. Following the Jan. 30 deadline, three finalists will be selected to make public presentations and each will receive up to $500,000 to further develop their plans.

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Three planes strike birds at LaGuardia Airport  


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

LaGuardia 2

Three planes reported striking birds as they approached LaGuardia Airport Wednesday morning, officials said.

The planes all landed safely, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and no injuries or damage to the aircraft were reported.

The bird strikes separately occurred from about 7:18 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. as the flights, Delta 4127, ExpressJet 5432 and ExpressJet 5400, were on their final approach to the same runway.

The FAA is investigating.

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