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State announces plans for full-time Elmont LIRR station

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As speculation grew over the past year whether or not the proposed Belmont hockey arena project would include a full-time Long Island Rail Road station at Belmont, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that the state and New York Arena Partners have entered into an agreement to construct a new station on the LIRR’s Main Line just north of Belmont Park.

The new station would exist between the Queens Village and Bellerose stations, and cost about $105 million to complete. The arena developers have agreed to cover 92 percent of the total cost, with the state providing $8 million in funding.

"Now with the addition of the first full-time LIRR train station in almost 50 years, we will provide millions of visitors and fans a fast and affordable way to get there and continue New York's nation-leading investments in 21st century transportation infrastructure," Cuomo said in a statement.

The inclusion of a full-time LIRR station had always been seen as a make-it-or-break-it factor for the project, and while local officials and the arena developers had previously floated the idea of upgrading the existing Belmont LIRR station, transportation experts had raised doubts of the plan’s feasibility.

Transportation Historian Larry Penner explained that the renovations to the Belmont line would be too costly and time consuming to be reasonability completed in time for the Islander’s opening game in 2021.

“I’ve seen estimations for that go from $400 million to a billion,” Penner, who has 31 years of experience in transportation, said. “It’s just not feasible to get this done in 27 months.”

Instead, the state is opting to build an entirely new station in Elmont along its main line, with planned electric shuttles to transport arena-goers to and from the new facilities.

State officials have yet to release a time frame for when construction would begin on the new station, but previous estimates have indicated that work on Belmont Arena would start this summer in order for it to open by the project’s 2021 completion deadline.