LaGuardia Direct Route
THE CUOMO BRIEF
RE-ENVISIONED WITH LIGHTWEIGHT TECHNOLOGY AND DIRECT ACCESS TO MIDTOWN
(Please see the new "LGA GATEWAY TENTATIVE CONFIGURATION" below.)
1. WILLETS POINT - LAGUARDIA
With access to three major spectator venues, plus the Number 7 Train and Long Island Railroad, the Willets Point end of the proposed Willets Point-LaGuardia rail line certainly has a lot to recommend it. But for any forward thinking observer there is a whole lot more, not least of which is the way the planned LaGuardia terminus can be made to allow the line's extension to Northern Boulevard in Astoria, approximately doubling its 2.75-mile length, to provide a direct connection from Midtown to the airport.
2. HELL GATE LINE - LAGUARDIA AIRPORT
There is, however, the small matter of not having any station on the Hell Gate Line at Northern Boulevard - although it seems clear a station there was originally planned, for a time when the local population got to the point where it would justify construction - which has now long passed. The low-slung, curving track and bridge work alone (purple) would probably cost fifty million today - but, properly planned, a Northern Boulevard Station at this location would be stunning - and with multi-level parking and broad based accommodations for shopping, would attract more passengers than the three preferred alternatives of the Penn Station Access Study combined.
Strangely, the access study does not mention a Northern Boulevard Station, or any station in Queens for that matter, but a station at this point is essential if a direct route to LaGuardia is to be had. While a trip on the Hell Gate Line is one of the most excitement-inducing that American railroading has to offer, the place where it crosses Northern Boulevard has remained an eyesore for most of the line’s hundred-year existence (not a very nice reflection on American railroading) with relief coming only comparatively recently in the form of some big box stores and other commerce.
Unfortunately, a LaGuardia-to-Northern Boulevard extension, even one using the lightweight technology and mostly-single-track configuration envisioned here, would cost somewhat more to build than the Willets Point-LaGuardia section having approximately the same length (less the shared maintenance facility located at the airport) requiring - in addition to the station at Northern Boulevard - one or two cable staid bridges to negotiate places where minimal intrusion at ground level is necessary. So the Willets Point-to-LaGuardia plan may be seen as a desirable precedent for achieving a direct route to LaGuardia.
3. RAIL TO LAGUARDIA
THE ONLY DIRECT ROUTE: BY WAY OF A NEW NORTHERN BOULEVARD STATION ON THE HELL GATE LINE
Proceeding east, the extended line would include stations at Northern Boulevard, 64th Street and Chamber of Commerce. Cable staid technology would provide for a gradual elongated crossing of Grand Central Parkway, allowing the single-track alignment to pass over multiple traffic lanes without obstructing the existing right-of-way. An elevated storage and maintenance facility (green) would enable passing of trains proceeding in opposite directions, as would other multiple-track stations along the route. Owing to its lightweight, flexible design, the track infrastructure contemplated here would allow a large number of stations and alignments at the airport to be configured relatively cheaply and more-or-less at will, depending on current needs and the terminals served.
Continuing east from LaGuardia, a station at World's Fair Marina-Astoria Boulevard would provide quick access to bus connections on Astoria Boulevard, given slight modification of bus routes and improvements allowing access to the proposed line. The station's two-platform layout would allow control of access to facilities at the Marina. The station at Citi Field would be able to accommodate four trains, with three 25' platforms serving two tracks. With controlled access to the station based on fare purchase at point of entry, passenger volume could be kept within manageable limits, and trains having the capacity of three city busses (about 180 passengers) could be scheduled to make departures at 1.5-minute intervals for a sufficient time to reduce passenger volume to near-normal levels. The LIRR terminus station serving Louis Armstrong and Arthur Ashe Stadiums would be capable of accommodating two trains on its long single track.
4. LGA GATEWAY TENTATIVE CONFIGURATION
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