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January 10, 2020

Philip Newman
Assistant Administrator for Government and Industry Affairs
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 1022
Washington, DC 20591

Dear Assistant Administrator Newman,

I hope this note finds you well. I am writing to you regarding the results of the Environmental
Impact Study conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration of the LaGuardia Access
Improvement Project. According to the report, the Administration screened 46 alternatives in
addition to the proposed fixed guideway to Willets Point, Port Authority of New York and New
Jersey’s (PANYNJ) preferred method of improved access to LaGuardia Airport. I understand
this review:

● Was conducted independently of PANYNJ


● Included public comments
● Evaluated alternatives against two overarching criteria1:
○ Does this alternative meet the Purpose and Need of the Proposed Action?
○ Would this alternative be reasonable to construct and operate?

Upon review of the results of the study, I understand the two alternatives to be carried forward
are the 1) no action alternative2 and 2) the fixed guideway to Willets Point despite overwhelming
public comments opposed to PANYNJ’s preferred route. Out of 414 comments reported in the
study, 255 were noted in opposition to that route. Furthermore, I find it concerning that 77
submitted form letters were counted as a single public comment3, essentially denying a voice to

1
Federal Aviation Administration, ​LaGuardia Airport Access Improvement Project Environmental Impact
Statement: Alternatives Screening Analysis​, November 2019, 2019-11-12 Elected Alternatives
Screening_final.pdf, Powerpoint Presentation, page 9.
2
Carrying this alternative forward is required per 40 CFR Section 150.214(d).
3
Federal Aviation Administration, ​LaGuardia Airport Access Improvement Project Environmental Impact
Statement: Alternatives Screening Analysis​, November 2019, 2019-11-12 Elected Alternatives
Screening_final.pdf, Powerpoint Presentation, page 5, 6.
the dozens of community members who took time out of their days to express their positions on
this important issue.

Given the results of the public comments, and concerns raised by community members of the
cost, impact and practicality of the fixed guideway to Willets Point, I request clarification on why
the following alternatives were eliminated from further consideration as viable options for
improved access to LaGuardia:

1. Alternative 3A: Ferry Service​ - Disqualified for not serving the “Time Certain” criteria.
On New York City’s Department of Transportation website, it states that the, “Staten
Island Ferry is the most reliable form of mass transit, with a consistent annual on-time
performance record of over 92 percent during the last several years.”4 Given the
reliability of the Staten Island Ferry, please explain how you have determined the Ferry
Service to not be “Time Certain” enough.

2. Alternative 7B: Dedicated Bus Lanes to Q70 Bus Route​ - Disqualified for not meeting
the “Reduce Trips” criteria. With dedicated bus lanes, travel time to and from the airport
would significantly decrease for travelers utilizing the Woodside and Jackson Heights
transportation hubs. Given decreased travel times, please clarify how you conclude that
this option would not reduce passenger vehicle trips.

3. Alternative 8A: Subway extension from Astoria Subway elevated above Astoria
Boulevard - ​Disqualified for “Infrastructure Effects” and “Service Disruptions.” Please
clarify how existing infrastructure or transportation facilities would be impacted with this
option. Additionally, please explain how the service would be disrupted during peak time,
particularly as it compares to other subway extension/fixed guideway alternatives.

4. Alternative 9M: Fixed Guideway to Woodside LIRR/Woodside Subway and


Roosevelt Avenue-Jackson Heights Station elevated above Roosevelt, Broadway,
BQE, and GCP - ​Disqualified for “Infrastructure Effects.” Please expand on how the
current Woodside and Jackson Heights stations would be impacted both during
construction and in the long term. Given the connectivity of these stations to the Long
Island Rail Road, numerous buses and multiple train lines, this seems like a natural
route for a fixed guideway to connect to in order to reduce trips and incentivize public
transport to LaGuardia Airport.

4
​Staten Island Ferry​. New York City Department of Transportation.
https://www1.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/ferrybus/staten-island-ferry.shtml​. Accessed 6 January 2020.
We respectfully request a written response via e-mail to my Deputy District Director, Naureen
Akhter at ​naureen.akhter@mail.house.gov​. Thank you in advance for your attention to this
matter.

Sincerely,

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez