Press Release Article

AIRTRAIN CONSTRUCTION MARKS MAJOR MILESTONES -- Key Components of $1.9 Billion Light Rail System Are Complete; Project Moves Forward as Work Begins on Terminal at Jamaica Station

Date: May 03, 2001
Press Release Number: 71-2001

Humming along within budget and on schedule to launch service next year, John F. Kennedy International Airport’s AirTrain project is celebrating major construction milestones. These include completion of more than five miles of on-airport elevated concrete guideway; completion of the concrete support columns within the Van Wyck Expressway median; delivery of the first two AirTrain vehicles; and the start of construction of the AirTrain Terminal at Jamaica Station.
When complete, AirTrain will provide fast, dependable service to and from Kennedy Airport. A trip from midtown Manhattan to JFK, which can take more than two hours in bad weather or unusually heavy traffic, will take about 36 minutes.

New York Governor George E. Pataki said, \"Not only does this project serve a vital primary purpose – improving access to Kennedy Airport for travelers and employees while alleviating highway traffic – but it also provides the added benefit of creating 4,150 construction jobs and generating $580 million in wages. Moreover, AirTrain has and will continue to stimulate the economy in many ways, including but not limited to the $980 million it has generated in construction-related sales. And when AirTrain is complete, we will have in place the crucial first step to providing travelers with a one-seat ride to JFK.\"

Port Authority Executive Director Neil D. Levin said, \"This project, sought by planners for decades, is fast becoming a reality. The guideway is in place that will carry passengers from terminal to terminal, allowing easy transfers by the end of next year. Columns are in place that soon will support the guideway to take travelers from passenger terminals to Jamaica Station, where they can transfer to the LIRR or the MTA’s network of subways and buses. Testing has begun on the first two AirTrain vehicles, and construction continues unabated all along the eight-mile system.\"

Anthony Cracchiolo, Director of the Port Authority’s Priority Capital Programs, said, \"We are particularly proud that construction has continued while 700 trains and 290,000 passengers per day travel through Jamaica. We are grateful for the cooperation of the local community, the Long Island Rail Road and New York City Transit, along with the New York State and New York City Departments of Transportation, local, city and state elected officials, the congressional delegation, and the Air Rail Transit Consortium, which includes Slattery Skanska and Bombardier and their partners.\"

Executive Director Levin said recent construction highlights include:

· Completion of more than five miles of on-airport, elevated concrete guideway. Since the first pile support was driven into the ground about two years ago, 327 columns have been erected, supporting 332 guideway spans – an average of about one 110-to-130-foot span completed every other day.

· Completion of the concrete support columns within the Van Wyck Expressway median, which ends the most disruptive aspect of AirTrain construction. As of this week, prefabricated girders have been lifted into place to form the supports for the tracks in the median of the Van Wyck Expressway between the Belt Parkway and Linden Boulevard. Construction now continues across Linden Boulevard and also moves east from Atlantic Avenue toward the AirTrain Terminal at Jamaica Station site at Sutphin Boulevard.

· Delivery of the first two AirTrain vehicles to the Operations Maintenance and Storage Facility at JFK. The cars already have undergone a variety of static testing procedures, including testing of subsystems. The public can see the vehicles in motion starting as early as this summer when engineers begin testing the fully automated cars on a portion of powered rail between the Howard Beach Station and the Operations and Control Center. Meanwhile, 20 of the 32 new cars ordered by the Port Authority are in various stages of fabrication at the contractor’s plant in Kingston, Ontario.

· The start of construction at the AirTrain Terminal at Jamaica Station following the award of a $316 million, jointly funded Port Authority-MTA contract to the joint venture of Perini/Tutor Saliba.

· Preliminary work on the Howard Beach AirTrain Terminal. Workers are expected to begin construction of the terminal’s foundation this summer.

· The awarding of more than $83 million in AirTrain construction contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses. To date, contracts worth $61.8 million have been awarded to minority-owned businesses and contracts worth $21.8 million to women-owned businesses.

· The awarding of $81.5 million in AirTrain construction contracts to businesses in Queens.

Mr. Levin said that later this year, the concrete guideway structure connecting the Van Wyck Expressway segment of AirTrain to Jamaica Terminal will be complete and the structural steel framework at Howard Beach Terminal will begin to take shape.

Mr. Levin said that elsewhere along the system, construction is under way at each of the six stations serving the terminals, as well as stations at an employee/long-term parking lot near Lefferts Boulevard and the Federal Circle/rental car area. Construction also continues at AirTrain’s Operations and Control Center.

To pay for the project, the Port Authority is using $600 million in capital funds and $1.3 billion from the FAA-authorized Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), which is a $3 fee collected from all departing passengers at airports across the country. No state or city tax revenue is being used to fund the project.

The on-airport portion of AirTrain, with service to and from the Howard Beach AirTrain Terminal, is expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2002, followed by the opening of Jamaica AirTrain service in 2003.

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