DECADES OF delay came to an end last week with the award of the contract to build a light rail link to JFK airport in New York.
The £554M design and build contract was awarded to the Air Rail Transit Consortium, led by the American arm of Swedish contracting giant Skanska, along with Bombardier Transit Corporation and Perini Corporation.
In addition to the design and build contract, the consortium will operate and maintain the line for up to 15 years for client Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
New York's transport planners have recognised the need for a rail link to the airport since the 1960s, but previous proposals were never taken up.
Skanska and Perini will carry out design and construction of the civil works, which include 13.5km of track. There will be
a 3.2km loop to link all nine passenger terminals at the airport, a 5km long link to the Jamaica subway station and transportation hub, plus a 5.3km long link to Howard Beach subway station. Ten stations are also included in the design - six to serve the passenger terminals, one for rental car areas, two subway interchanges and a link to long term and employee car parks.
Construction work is expected to start in September. The project has a 53 month programme to opening in 2002.
Construction will be paid for by a combination of Port Authority funds and airport taxes - but once in operation, revenue is expected to exceed operating costs.