NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans on Tuesday to build a direct train link between New York City's LaGuardia airport and local subway and rail lines as part of broader plans to improve the state's aging infrastructure.
Cuomo has made modernizing New York City's airports a priority and the state has taken over modernization projects for both LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports. LaGuardia regularly features near the bottom in airport surveys and last year Vice President Joe Biden likened it to a "third-world country."
"New York is a world-class location. But our airports are outdated and lag behind our competitors," Cuomo said at an event hosted by the business group the Association for a Better New York. "You look at any report and it will talk about how New York airports sorely lag in terms of development."
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The $450 million air train service would connect to the city's number 7 subway line and the Long Island Rail Road commuter train service at Willets Point to the airport with a mile-and-a-half (2.4 km) long track along the Grand Central Parkway. It is expected to be operational within five years, the governor's office said.
Cuomo's infrastructure plans, which he will flesh out in a combined State-of-the-State and budget address on Wednesday, include $1.3 billion of spending for the new Tappan Zee Bridge, a major Hudson river crossing north of New York City.
Cuomo won a second term as governor in November and appears keen to put his name to high profile modernization projects long neglected in the state.
Spending announcements ahead of Wednesday's speech total over $5 billion. The governor plans to contribute $750 million to the Metropolitan Transit Authority's (MTA) capital plan, spend $500 million to increase broadband access statewide, and invest a further $750 million in roads and bridges in the state.
The governor also announced plans last week to spend $1.5 billion on economic development in upstate New York.
At least $3.3 billion of the spending, including the Tappan Zee bridge, broadband, and economic development, will be financed using $5 billion the state received from fines levied on financial institutions, according to a spokesman for the Division of the Budget.
"We are beginning to see the framework for how he plans to spend the windfall settlement from the banks," said Elizabeth Lynam, a state budget analyst at the Citizen's Budget Commission. "These are one-time investments and that's what we were hoping to see from the windfall."
(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Alan Crosby)