Even though NYC is a national leader in modernizing infrastructure, you wouldn’t always know it by looking at the congestion at LaGuardia Airport, where traffic can often turn the simple act of flying into an all-day production.
The facts are staggering. In 2017, it took more than 70 minutes to drive between midtown and LaGuardia nearly 1 in every 3 days — an increase of more than fivefold in just four years. That congestion slows down our hustling city and puts undue stress on neighborhoods near the airport. Queens is a bedroom community, after all.
It is time to reinvest in LaGuardia and make our communities more livable, modern and efficient. I’ll be the first to admit that when the AirTrain LGA was first proposed, I was skeptical of its effects on the community and whether the burden of construction would be worth the long-term benefit. Queens residents have experienced frustration with the ongoing reconstruction of LaGuardia Airport itself.
But an investment of this magnitude will help twofold: The AirTrain will create good-paying jobs in Queens and reduce the congestion headaches residents experience when commuting to and from work.
Rail access to LaGuardia is critical to the future of our community.
There will always be hiccups with new developments of this size — a 1.5-mile elevated train between Willets Point and the airport. But with estimates of as many as 10 million passengers using the AirTrain by 2025, the benefits could be immense. There will be fewer cars traversing the surrounding Queens neighborhoods — freeing the roads of smog and pollution that harm our environment. Pedestrians will be safer in their communities, and residents will have easier commutes.
It will also help turn LaGuardia Airport into the world-class airport New York City needs.
Now, this is only the beginning of the pivotal dialogue needed before starting construction on this project. Queens residents must be involved in the process, starting with the federally led environmental review. I encourage New Yorkers to voice their opinions and help develop the best plan for our neighborhoods.
Rep. Joseph Crowley represents the 14th Congressional District, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx.