State Senator Leroy Comrie joined his colleagues in government and MTA officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, Oct. 6, celebrating the start of two-way service at the Long Island Rail Road station that serves UBS Arena in Belmont Park.
The station can now accommodate both eastbound and westbound trains and those traveling from Penn Station will no longer need to board a shuttle bus to the Queens Village Station that was offered last year.
“As we look to move our state to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future, having westbound service at the newest LIRR station in 50 years at Elmont-UBS Arena Station, will provide a one-seat ride to the venue that diminishes congestion and encourages public transit,” Comrie said. “Investment in transit yields benefits that are lasting in local communities and leveraging public-private partnerships is a necessary step towards reimagining transportation in New York.”
The new transit option should help alleviate motor vehicle traffic that inundates the southeast Queens neighborhoods of Cambrai Heights, Hollis, and Bellerose when the Islanders play their home games at the $1.1 billion UBS Arena. The facility draws large crowds for concerts and other events.
“I want to extend kudos to Governor Hochul, UBS Arena Partners, as well as the MTA/LIRR teams that worked closely with my colleagues and I,” Comrie added. “But most importantly, with the local communities to see this station go from conceptual to reality.”
The new station is fully compliant with the American Disabilities Act, featuring a wide pedestrian overpass to accommodate large crowds and two elevators, one for each platform.
“UBS Arena has had a schedule filled with huge events since it opened last fall and with both platforms now in service New Yorkers will have direct railroad access to Islander games, concerts, and other events,” MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said. When LIRR service to Grand Central Madison begins at the end of this year, the station will operate 365 days a year.
“Having both westbound and eastbound platforms operational at Elmont-UBS Arena Station will enhance service for Long Islanders and spur economic activity by connecting commuters to businesses in the area,” Empire State Development Board Chairman Kevin Law said.
Now attention shifts to a proposal by the New York Racing Association to modernize Belmont Park with the construction of a new grandstand and clubhouse. Legislation was introduced in Albany earlier this year that would authorize the NYRA. to enter into a repayment agreement with the state of New York for payment of bonds issued by the state for the renovation of Belmont Park.
“Belmont Park is one of America’s iconic sporting venues and a major generator of tax revenue for the state,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech said. “Modernizing the facility will help draw even more visitors on racing days, who spend money in the area that supports small businesses in both Queens and Nassau counties. It will also create contracting opportunities for local small businesses, including MWBEs. This legislation is a win for taxpayers and the local business community.”