The new Long Island Rail Road station in Elmont is set to open for partial service in November, according to a statement released by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Part of the $1.26 billion Belmont Park Redevelopment Project, the station will begin operating next month, when the new UBS Arena, also part of the project, opens for the first New York Islanders home game of the 2021-22 NHL season.
Along with the convenient service for UBS Arena patrons, the MTA’s statement touted the benefits the LIRR station is expected to provide for the Elmont community. Part of the LIRR Expansion Project, the station will be equipped with free WiFi, digital screens, elevators, canopies, charging stations and other amenities. Additionally, nearly 200 parking spaces will be reserved for Elmont residents.
“In addition to providing a regular, full-time public transit option to and from Belmont Park and the new arena, hotel and retail village,” the statement read, “the new train station will also serve as an additional commuting option for area residents — something the community has needed for years.” It went on to say that the station is expected to welcome LIRR trains every half hour during peak periods and every hour during off-peak times.
Electric shuttle buses slated to transport Belmont Park visitors will also serve LIRR commuters. Without the buses, Islanders fans and others would have a 10-minute walk from the station to the arena, the statement emphasized.
“The new Elmont Station is part of a broader LIRR initiative to enhance the quality of life for New Yorkers, revitalize the communities and strengthen the overall economy of Long Island and the wider region,” the MTA stated.
Construction of the station is expected to total $105 million. The developers of UBS Arena have pledged $97 million, or 92 percent of the cost, and New York state will invest $8 million. The project is expected to create nearly $50 million in revenue each year, and produce an estimated $725 million in annual economic output.
Trains to and from Manhattan are currently served by a part-time station at Belmont Park on race days only. The new LIRR station was designed to relieve pressure on the Belmont spur during major events like the Belmont Stakes, and to provide an alternative if service to the spur is disrupted.
When the second phase of the new station is completed late next year, the Elmont station will provide direct service to Belmont Park from both east and west. The LIRR spur/Belmont station now services only westbound train riders.
Those who live east of Belmont Park and come to the park by way of LIRR branches in Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma will now have a one-seat ride to the park, reducing both travel times and highway congestion, the statement said.
“The Elmont LIRR station will provide a critical public transit link for both neighborhood commuters and fans attending the new Belmont Park arena,” Jack Sterne, spokesman for Empire State Development, the state economic development organization behind the redevelopment project, said in a previous Herald story. “This will be the first new, full-time commuter LIRR station built in decades, and it will provide a real benefit for Long Islanders through an innovative public-private partnership.”