I have long believed that the final cost for a LaGuardia AirTrain could end up several hundred million dollars above Governor Andrew Cuomo's original 2014 estimated figure of $450 million, and that the promised completion date of 2019 was unrealistic.
Both have proven to be true. The Port Authority capital budget lists the project coast at $1.5 billion.
And four years have passed with little progress to date. There are no environmental documents or any preliminary design and engineering efforts necessary to validate construction costs.
The environmental review process, which recently got underway, will be more complicated. More time will be needed to look at proposals that build over the Flushing Bay Promenade or Flushing Bay.
Using one of these routes instead of the original option of using the Grand Central Parkway median could easily add several hundred million to construction costs.
New York City is spending $200 million on a project to restore wetlands and upgrade the sewer system for Flushing Bay. Much of this work will be performed on the same waterfront shoreline as the proposed AirTrain.
How much of this environmental remediation work will have repeated due to construction? Are the two projects compatible? Will taxpayers be stuck paying twice for the same work?
Cuomo's belief that this will provide a "one-seat ride" for those traveling to and from LaGuardia Airport isn't supported by the facts. Why would travelers with luggage and those with children attempt to squeeze on already packed rush hour 7 subways and Port Washington branch trains?
A one-seat ride could be accomplished by extending the N & W subway lines from their current terminus at Astoria/Ditmars Blvd to LaGuardia Airport. This previously died due to local community opposition.