The push for an AirTrain to LaGuardia might be dead — but talk of a new subway line to the airport from Astoria is gaining steam.
Gov. Hochul on Oct. 4 ordered the Port Authority to seek “alternatives” to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to build a rail link from Willets Point in Queens that would have connected the airport to the Long Island Rail Road and the No. 7 train.
That plan would have sent LaGuardia travelers from Manhattan past the airport and made them backtrack to reach the terminals.
Cuomo’s plan last year received federal approval.
Local elected officials are among those who want the AirTrain plan replaced with a subway extension. Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), whose political base is Astoria, backs extending the N/W train to LaGuardia by building new subway tracks above the Grand Central Parkway — which would give travelers a straight ride from Manhattan to the airport.
A new overhead track that bends east from a point between the 30th Ave. and Astoria Blvd. N/W stations and then runs along the Grand Central would not require disrupting swaths of the surrounding neighborhood, Gianaris says.
“That seemed to make the most sense to me, it achieves the goal of getting the subway system linked up with the airport,” said Gianaris. “It keeps us from wreaking havoc on some of our local streets.”
Gianaris in the early 2000s was among a number of Queens officials — including area Councilman Peter Vallone — who opposed extending the N line by turning it east at the Ditmars Blvd. stop over Ditmars Blvd. to the Grand Central.
That plan would have greatly disrupted the neighborhood, Gianaris said.
The Astoria Blvd. route Gianaris now favors would run beneath the Hell Gate Bridge trestle, which Amtrak trains use for Boston-bound northeast corridor trains.
The Hell Gate Bridge issue was cited by FAA officials when they approved Cuomo’s plan earlier this year.
Also, the route would hug St. Michael’s Cemetery and would have to descend into a tunnel to make sure LaGuardia runways have enough clearance.
Gianaris thinks the problems are solvable.
“New York can figure out how to engineer this,” he said. “You could lower the Grand Central Parkway. You might not even need to raise the Hell Gate. It all needs a review.”