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Global Engineering Firm To Get $14.6M for LaGuardia AirTrain Design

 The current plan calls for an AirTrain from Willets Point to LaGuardia Airport.
The current plan calls for an AirTrain from Willets Point to LaGuardia Airport.
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Governor Cuomo's Office

EAST ELMHURST — An engineering firm founded by the man who designed the city’s first subways has been tapped to lead the preliminary engineering and design studies for LaGuardia Airport’s AirTrain.

Parsons Brinckerhoff was selected by the Port Authority to create the first studies of the AirTrain, which will “create a much-needed rail link to the airport,” according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. They will get $14.6 million for the project.

The agency issued a request for proposals for the project in February. The company, which was purchased in 2014 by WSP, traces its roots back to William Barclay Parsons, who designed the original subway system.

The engineering firm will be in charge of three different aspects of the project — building up to two new AirTrain stations at the airport, building an AirTrain station at Willets Point, and any construction related to finding the safest way for the train to travel to the airport, officials said.

The Port Authority could not immediately say how much the contract was for.

Cuomo says the proposed AirTrain “will improve passenger experience, reduce traffic congestion and serve as a key part of the modernization and transformation of LaGuardia into a world-class airport.”

"LaGuardia Airport is an essential part of New York’s economy and transportation network, and by providing additional transit options we will support new economic opportunities and growth throughout the region,” he wrote in a press release.

The airport, which is currently in the early stages of a multi-billion-dollar renovation, is the only major airport in the region without direct rail access, Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye wrote in the press release.

When it's completed, passengers will be able to connect to the AirTrain at the Willets Point station from the 7 train or Long Island Rail Road. 

The AirTrain would then shuttle passengers on a track somewhere along the Grand Central Parkway. 

Cuomo is also examining the possibility of airport parking at Willets Point — although it's now not clear if the industrial neighborhood adjacent to the train hub would be included in that plan. 

And official said they are examining other land surrounding the subway and LIRR station for airport parking.