STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Gov. Kathy Hochul said Monday that she has directed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to find alternatives to a $2.1 billion “airtrain” for LaGuardia Airport.
City Councilman Joe Borelli (R-South Shore) and Borough President candidate Vito Fossella see an opportunity to jumpstart a long-sought project they say is vital to Staten Islanders.
The duo wants Hochul to redirect federal funding from the project — designed to connect LaGuardia Airport to the Willets Point subway stop along the 7 train — to accelerate construction of the new Outerbridge Crossing.
“(The) Port Authority has an opportunity to fast track and finance a project that will benefit hundreds of thousands of people,” Borelli said.
The Port Authority did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication Thursday, but approved a $9.2 million planning authorization in 2018, which marked the first step in the replacement of the almost 100-year-old span.
Since then, it’s unclear what progress has been made on the project to replace the bridge that connects southern Staten Island to New Jersey, and Fossella hopes funding from the unfulfilled “airtrain” can go toward the bridge’s replacement.
“Built almost 100 years ago, the Outerbridge Crossing was the Port Authority’s very first bi-state development project and has outlived its useful life,” Fossella said. “I’m calling on Governor Hochul to heed the warnings on the ‘airtrain’ and reaffirm the fundamental mission of the Authority, by prioritizing a project that will make a real difference for the people of Staten Island.”
Widely panned as a pet project of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, government and environmental activists criticized the “airtrain” as unnecessary and too costly.
Hochul had said previously that she was in contact with Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton, who has been a vocal proponent of “airtrain,” about the project’s future.
“The mega project is a mega disaster,” Fossella said. “Governor Hochul and the Port Authority would be much wiser to reallocate these resources to the construction of the new Outerbridge Crossing.”