The following morning, A Better Way to LGA, a coalition of business, labor and industry groups, gathered on the Flushing Bay promenade to show their support for the project.
Tom Grech, president and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, reiterated that the project would yield not only union construction jobs, but also ongoing opportunities for the maintenance of the AirTrain. He said the AirTrain at JFK Airport, which opened 16 years ago, also faced initial resistance, but “has exceeded all expectations.”
Last year, that AirTrain served a total of nearly 21 million riders. Grech also announced that all five chambers of commerce in New York City support the LaGuardia AirTrain.
“Tourism, conventions and business are the backbone of our city’s economy,” the chamber heads wrote in an open letter. “AirTrain will improve and speed up the connections those visitors make in getting from LaGuardia to their destinations.
“After all, we only get one chance to make a great first impression,” they added. “Why should we squander that opportunity by forcing travelers to endure long, unreliable rides to the airport in traffic?”
Grech added that the Port Authority has committed to investing $16.5 million to rehabilitate the 1.4-mile promenade, including $8 million for pathway enhancements, improved landscaping and refurbishment of the railing and walkway.
Another $8 million would be for community park improvements, and the remaining $500,000 will be for bulkhead and seawall repairs.
“This place could be a gem,” he said of the promenade, “and it is not today.” Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the New York Building Congress, called the AirTrain project a “no-brainer,” especially considering the fiscal challenges afflicting the city and state.
“The way you get America out of a rough time has always been simple,” he said. “It’s three words: build, build, build.”
Laura Colacurcio, vice president of ABNY, argued that the travel experience at LaGuardia will be more convenient when the AirTrain is built.
“Anyone who has flown in and out of LaGuardia knows that the worst part of the entire journey is often the trip to and from the airport,” she said. “We hope that taking a taxi or car service to LaGuardia will be an outdated practice for most travelers in just a matter of years.”