The Port Authority can proceed with $2.1 billion plans to build a monorail train between LaGuardia Airport and eastern Queens, the Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday.
The decision comes after a delay in plans to begin construction last month over concerns that the feds let Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pet project advance despite believing the route would prove to be slower than driving.
Cuomo, the project’s chief proponent, said in a statement that the news marks “the culmination of years of advocacy by this administration and a key moment in our efforts to rebuild New York’s infrastructure for the future.”
“As we come out of the COVID crisis, our state and our country have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in a resilient, transformative, and interconnected future,” the governor said.
“Today’s announcement is a testament to our ‘all aboard’ commitment to seizing it, in partnership with the Biden administration and Secretary Buttigieg.”
Cuomo’s vision will connect LaGuardia Airport to the LIRR and subway near Citi Field.
Critics have questioned the logic of the route, which requires Manhattan-bound riders to first travel east — away from the island.
Documents obtained in April showed that federal officials in 2019 let Cuomo’s proposal proceed despite believing the route would prove to be slower than driving.
“A 36-minute door-to-door car ride may actually be quicker than 28 minute train ride when the time to travel from the door to the station platform is factored in,” FAA officials wrote in the documents, which environmental group Riverkeeper obtained via a Freedom of Information request and shared with the public.
In June, the FAA said it was “working to answer additional questions from members of the New York delegation” — including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose district includes part of the project.
AOC mocked the proposal at a virtual town hall meeting on April 24, where she called the review process revealed by the Riverkeeper documents “really sketchy.”
“There were really a lot of things that were bypassed in due diligence in the authorization of this project,” the congresswoman said at the time.
“It is billions and billions and billions of dollars on an infrastructure project that doesn’t make logistical sense.”