Manhattan to JFK in 36 minutes
The AirTrain automated light rail system links the nine passenger terminals of John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) with the central terminal, rental car area, and parking lots. When designed and built, the AirTrain’s capacity was 34,000 passengers a day, making it the second most heavily used airport access system in the United States at the time.
The AirTrain extends to intermodal transfer stations in Queens that connect to New York City Transit (NYCT) subway and bus systems, and the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). A trip from midtown Manhattan, which formerly took more than two hours in bad weather or unusually heavy traffic, now takes about 36 minutes.
Significant features and accomplishments
- Multifaceted contract: LRT, plus support for Jamaica station, LaGuardia, and JFK airport
- Constructed 1,650-foot (503-meter) cut-and-cover tunnels through an area with a high water table
- Developed innovative PGTS photographic tracking system for work process
- Construction under intense operating conditions (railroad, subway, and bus services) in a busy urban environment
- Surpassed 17% goal for minority and woman-owned business participation.
Fully automated, with elevated guideways and cut-and-cover tunnels
Some 5 miles (8 km) of the 8.4-mile (14-km) AirTrain route lie within the confines of the airport, including a cut-and-cover tunnel under the taxiways. A 3.4-mile (5.5-km) section of the AirTrain is located outside airport property and runs on an elevated guideway in the median of the Van Wyck Expressway.
Ten stations lie along the route, including the Howard Beach and Jamaica transfer stations in Queens. The Howard Beach Station provides a seamless passenger transfer to NYCT systems. The modern Jamaica Station offers easy access to LIRR trains, NYCT subway lines, and more than a dozen bus lines.
The AirTrain is a fully automated, driverless system controlled by a moving block train control system for highly reliable service. An automated storage yard complements the automated mainline operations and minimizes the need for manual movement of trains. Bechtel was responsible for construction oversight of the project. The scope included construction scheduling and staging, traffic control, quality assurance, and quality control oversight.
Innovation in photographic tracking
Bechtel developed a graphical representation of progress using CAD site plans in the Project Graphic Tracking System (PGTS) in combination with photographs. This method enhanced the port authority's ability to maintain cost and schedule targets by effectively tracking progress and identifying potential impacts. A similar graphical format was used to plot operational impacts.