Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Note: Click on the Question to show the answer.
+ What is the Proposed Action?
The Proposed Action, as identified by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Port Authority), is an elevated fixed guideway (AirTrain or automated people mover) between LGA and a transfer station that provides a direct connection to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and New York City Transit (NYCT) subway. The Proposed Action would include two on-Airport stations serving Terminals B and C, and a third station that connects to the Mets-Willets Point stations of the LIRR Port Washington Branch and the NYCT Flushing No. 7 subway line. For more information about the Port Authority’s proposed project, please visit the Port Authority’s website. Please note that the information on the Port Authority’s website has not been reviewed or approved by FAA.
+ Why is the Proposed Action needed?
The purpose of the Proposed Action (also referred to as the LGA Access Improvement Project) is to provide a time-certain transportation option for passengers and employees to access LGA and enable the Port Authority to optimize employee parking for the geographically-constrained airport. Specifically, the Proposed Action would address:
- the increasing and unreliable travel times to and from key locations within New York City.
- the passenger and employee access to LGA that is limited to roadway access.
- the traffic congestion on off-airport roadways near the Airport that contributes to Airport access travel times.
- the limited on-airport options to provide adequate employee parking and maintenance activities.
+ Is the FAA studying any alternatives to the Proposed Action?
Yes. As required by NEPA, the FAA will independently identify and evaluate alternatives to the Proposed Action, including a No Action Alternative. Preliminary alternatives under consideration include:
- Use of Other Existing Airports: Transfer or shifting of aviation activity to another existing public airport (or airports) in the New York metropolitan area.
- Use of Other Modes of Transportation: Use of other modes of transportation, including automobiles, buses, ferry service, existing passenger trains, proposed high-speed rail facilities or other emerging transportation technologies.
- Transportation Demand Management: Use of measures to reduce vehicular travel to and from the Airport.
- Off-Airport Roadway Expansion: Increase the capacity of roadways surrounding and providing access to the Airport, potentially including I-495, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE), the Grand Central Parkway, Queens Boulevard, and/or Astoria Boulevard.
- Subway Extension from Astoria Boulevard Subway Station (Elevated Above Grand Central Parkway): Construction of an elevated subway structure that would extend service of the NYCT N and W lines eastward from the existing Astoria Boulevard Subway Station to a new station at the Airport; the alignment would be along Grand Central Parkway.
- Subway Extension from Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard Subway Station (Elevated Above 19th Avenue): Construction of an elevated subway structure that would extend service of the NYCT N and W lines eastward from the existing Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard Subway Station to a new station at the Airport; the alignment would generally be along 31st Street north, 19th Avenue east, and Grand Central Parkway east.
- Subway Extension from Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard Subway Station (Tunnel Beneath 19th Avenue): Construction of an underground subway structure that would extend service of the NYCT N and W lines eastward from the existing Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard Subway Station to a new station at the Airport; the alignment generally would be in a tunnel beneath 31st Street north, 19th Avenue east, and Grand Central Parkway east.
- Fixed Guideway from Astoria Boulevard Subway Station: Construction of a fixed guideway automated people mover (APM) system that would provide a transfer from the Astoria Boulevard Subway Station for a direct connection between service from the existing Astoria Boulevard Subway Station and a new station at the Airport; the alignment generally would be along Grand Central Parkway east.
- Fixed Guideway from Woodside LIRR and 61st Street-Woodside Subway Station: Construction of a fixed guideway APM system that would provide service from the existing LIRR Woodside Station and the 61st Street/Woodside Subway Station to a new station at the Airport; the alignment generally would be north along the existing railroad right-of-way and then parallel the BQE north to the Grand Central Parkway east.
- Fixed Guideway from Roosevelt Avenue-Jackson Heights Subway Station: Construction of a fixed guideway APM system that would provide service from the existing Roosevelt Avenue/Jackson Heights Subway Station to a new station at the Airport; the alignment generally would be along Broadway northwest to the BQE and then parallel the BQE north to the Grand Central Parkway east.
- Fixed Guideway from Jamaica Station Transportation Hub: Construction of a fixed guideway APM system that would provide service from the existing Jamaica Station transportation hub to a new station at the Airport; the alignment generally would be along city streets to the Van Wyck Expressway and would continue northwesterly along the Van Wyck Expressway and Grand Central Parkway.
- No Action Alternative: Under this alternative, the Port Authority would take no action to develop an APM system or other alternative form of transportation to and from the Airport.
+ What is NEPA?
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to engage in a review process to evaluate the potential environmental and public health effects of a proposed action and to involve the public before a decision is made or construction begins.
A NEPA-mandated review must be completed before an agency makes a final decision on a proposed action. NEPA does not require the decision-maker to select the most environmentally preferable alternative, but NEPA does require that decision-makers be informed of the environmental consequences of their decisions. Analysis under NEPA should be informed by NEPA’s policy goals which include assuring a safe and healthful environment for future generations.
+ Who Oversees NEPA?
There are three federal entities responsible for regulating NEPA and the environmental review process.
- Primary responsibility is vested in the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). CEQ oversees implementation of NEPA regulations, which are binding for all federal agencies. CEQ also approves alternative arrangements for compliance with NEPA in the case of emergencies.
- The EPA’s Office of Federal Activities reviews environmental impact statements and some environmental assessments issued by federal agencies. It provides its comments to the public by publishing summaries of them in the Federal Register.
- The third environmental entity involved in the NEPA process is the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution. The Institute helps federal agencies and other affected stakeholders address environmental disputes, conflicts, and challenges through programs and services that provide situation assessments.
+ What is an Environmental Impact Statement?
Federal agencies prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) if a proposed major federal action is determined to significantly affect the quality of the human environment. An EIS is a detailed written statement that defines the purpose and need for a project; considers a range of reasonable alternatives (including a no action alternative); analyzes and evaluates the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental impacts that may result from the Proposed Action and reasonable alternatives that meet the purpose and need; and identifies measures that may mitigate the effects of a proposed action.
Included Items. An EIS includes:
- Executive Summary. A summary of the EIS, including the major conclusions, areas of controversy, and the issues to be resolved.
- Table of Contents. Assists the reader in navigating through the EIS.
- Purpose and Need Statement. Explains the reason the agency is proposing the action and what the agency expects to achieve.
- Alternatives. The EIS must consider all reasonable project alternatives that can accomplish the purpose and need of the proposed action. For all project alternatives that were eliminated, the EIS must briefly discuss the reasons why the alternative was eliminated from consideration.
- Affected Environment. Describes the environment of the area to be affected by the alternatives under consideration.
- Environmental Consequences. A discussion of the direct and indirect environmental effects and their significance.
- Mitigation. Describes measures to be taken to minimize harm from the proposed action and reasonable alternatives.
- List of Preparers. A list of the names and qualifications of the persons who were primarily responsible for preparing the EIS.
- List of Agencies, Organizations, and Persons to whom the EIS was sent.
- Index. The index focuses on areas of reasonable interest to the reader.
- Appendices (if required). Appendices provide background materials prepared in connection with the EIS.
- Notice of Intent. The EIS process begins with the publication of a Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register, which informs the public of the upcoming environmental analysis, provides basic information about the Proposed Action, and describes how the public can become involved in the EIS preparation.
- Scoping Process. The NOI starts the scoping process, which allows the public and government agencies to collaborate to learn about the Proposed Action, define the range of issues and possible alternatives to be addressed in the EIS, and raise any concerns and issues. As part of the process, agencies are required to identify and invite the participation of interested persons through a variety of means including public hearings, formal hearings, and workshops.
- Draft and Final EIS. Following publication of the Draft EIS, a comment period of no less than 45 days begins. A Final EIS is then published in which the government is required to substantively respond to public comments. Publication of the Final EIS begins the minimum 30-day “wait period,” in which agencies are generally required to wait 30 days before making a final decision on a proposed action. However, the FAA may decide to issue ROD in conjunction with the Final EIS, as permitted under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).
- Record of Decision. The EIS process ends with the issuance of the Record of Decision (ROD). The ROD:
- explains the agency’s decision,
- describes the alternatives the agency considered, and
- discusses the agency’s plans for mitigation and monitoring, if necessary
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is then required to review and provide comments on the adequacy of the analysis and the project’s impact on the environment using a rating system. In the rare case that the EPA deems the EIS’s analysis unsatisfactory, it is referred to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).
+ Who are the agencies involved in preparing the EIS?
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the lead federal agency for this EIS. The FAA is responsible for complying with NEPA and other environmental laws, regulations, and orders. As part of the process for preparing an EIS, the FAA must consider and disclose the potential impacts of the Proposed Action and its alternatives on the quality of the human environment. The FAA also coordinates with federal, state, and local agencies and conducts public outreach.
- Cooperating Agencies. Some large or complex proposals involve multiple federal agencies along with state, local and tribal agencies. Other federal, state, tribal, or local government agencies may also play a role in the decision-making process or provide special expertise regarding a proposed action, but less of a role than the lead agency. In such a case, that agency is called a “cooperating agency.” The list of cooperating agencies can be found here.
- Participating Agencies. A participating agency is any federal or non-federal governmental agency that may have an interest in the project because of their jurisdictional authority, special expertise, and/or statewide interest. The list of participating agencies can be found here.
+ What is the NEPA process for the Proposed Action?
Publication in the Federal Register of a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS formally initiates the NEPA process. The NOI initiates the scoping comment period, identifies dates for agency and public scoping meetings on the EIS process, and begins the NEPA process. The EIS follows a process prescribed by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations.
The FAA will review all comments and input provided by agencies and the public during the scoping process. The FAA will then begin the technical studies to develop the Draft EIS. The FAA will hold public meetings on the Draft EIS and again consider public comments before issuing the Final EIS and ROD. Key steps in the process are outlined here.
+ Are there any additional federal processes that the Proposed Action is subject to?
The FAA has determined that the proposed LGA Access Improvement Project is a major infrastructure project subject to the requirements of Executive Order (EO) 13807, “Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure,” also referred to as the One Federal Decision policy. As the lead agency for the LGA Access Improvement Project EIS, it is FAA’s responsibility to develop a permitting timetable in compliance with EO 13807 and obtain agreement on the timetable with any cooperating or participating agencies that have a role in the environmental and permitting process for the project. EO 13087 sets a government-wide goal of two years for the average time to complete the environmental review and permitting process for major infrastructure projects.
In accordance with EO 13807, this EIS will be used by all federal approving and permitting agencies. Accordingly, it will comply with any requirements of these cooperating and participating agencies. The FAA and cooperating and participating agencies intend to use the preparation of this EIS to comply with the concurrent statutory review process under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), as amended, and its implementing regulations, Protection of Historic Properties (36 CFR Part 800); Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act; the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act; and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, and any other applicable federal regulations.
+ What is the anticipated schedule for the EIS?
Under One Federal Decision, the major milestones and target dates for the EIS are as follows:
The Port Authority has requested that the FAA expedite the schedule as appropriate. The FAA has agreed to work towards accelerating the EIS schedule, if feasible; thus, the dates above are subject to change.
+ What are the opportunities for providing input and reviewing additional information?
The public will have several opportunities to provide input and comments on the Proposed Action and the EIS during the EIS process. Public input will provide valuable information to the FAA in its evaluation of alternatives, potential impacts, and possible mitigation measures. The FAA will maintain a website throughout the NEPA process with project updates, meeting information, status reports and schedules, study highlights, and other information. The FAA will also post reports generated during the EIS. The public may also sign up for the EIS distribution list. Members of the public may submit questions and comments to the EIS Project Team via:
- Email: info@LGAaccessEIS.com
- Web: www.LGAaccessEIS.com
- In Person
- At public meetings: Click here to view upcoming events.
+ Where can more information be found regarding the EIS process?
For more detailed information, please see “A Citizen’s Guide to NEPA” published by the White House Council on Environmental Quality.