The $14.6 million contract to prepare initial designs for the AirTrain to LaGuardia airport was awarded to an engineering firm that worked on the Second Avenue Subway, according to officials.

Parsons Brinckerhoff will lead initial planning of the project, championed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and proposed by the Port Authority, to bring an AirTrain running from Willets Point to the airport. It would be supported by a to-be-built, three-station complex at Willets Point that would serve as the stop for the 7 train, LIRR and the AirTrain.

“The new AirTrain will improve passenger experience, reduce traffic congestion and serve as a key part of the modernization and transformation of LaGuardia into a world-class airport,” said Cuomo, who views the AirTrain as an essential piece to accommodate the growing number of passengers using the airport.

The firm will be responsible for planning the construction of two AirTrain stations at new terminal buildings at the airport as well the AirTrain station at Willets Point. It would also plan construction relating to the right of way for the train from Willets Point to the airport.

Parsons Brinckerhoff has previously worked on projects at the San Francisco International Airport, the O’Hare International Airport and New York’s Second Avenue Subway and No. 7 subway line extension, according to its website.

Critics of the proposed AirTrain have argued that current mass transit options offer a faster way to travel from midtown to LaGuardia. Others fear that an AirTrain stop at Willets Point would overburden the already packed 7 train. Earlier this year, Port Authority Commissioner Ken Lipper said the AirTrain was among “the most ill-conceived projects that I’ve experienced in government.”