New York Islanders fans, concertgoers and shoppers would continue to rely on cars, buses and Jamaica-station-only trains to access the proposed arena at Belmont before Long Island’s first, full-time train stop in nearly 90 years is complete.
The announcement Monday of the $105 million Elmont train station on the Long Island Rail Road’s Main Line was critical in the traffic plan for the 19,000-seat arena, 250-bed hotel and 350,000 square feet of retail space.
Funding for the project will include $30 million from the project developers, New York Arena Partners, and $75 million from the state. New York Arena Partners would pay $2.24 million to the state over 30 years to rent the public land at Belmont — a payment tied to the creation of the LIRR station — bringing the developer’s contribution to $97 million for the station. State officials said details about who would pay for any potential cost overruns are being finalized.
While there has been discussion about the station since at least April, the LIRR has not done a feasibility study of full-time service to Belmont Park, MTA officials said. The station is pending the approval of the MTA Board.
“One of the most consistent comments we hear about the project is concerns about the traffic that would be generated by the project,” said Rachel Shatz, vice president for planning and environmental review at Empire State Development, the lead state agency on the arena project. “We now have a plan that with all measures taken together can substantially reduce reliance on private vehicles while avoiding adding traffic to the local street network.”
Shatz, in comments before the ESD board, voted to approve the project’s environmental impact statement, said other measures included incentives for carpooling, signage and customized apps to alert drivers to congestion and alternate routes and programs that would stagger arrival times for Islanders games and concerts.
Taken together, these measures would reduce traffic from 83 percent for a sold-out arena event to 48 percent. During the weekday evening peak hour, it would reduce the number of cars on the Cross Island Parkway from 13,300 to 10,800 in both directions, Shatz said.
The part-time station at Belmont, used on Belmont Stakes day, would bring patrons to the arena for games in the first two Islanders seasons, in addition to a shuttle bus from another station on the Main Line, MTA officials said. About 24-30 percent of patrons to the new development would take the LIRR, according to the environmental impact document.
In addition, New York City Transit would adjust schedules to respond to changing conditions, and is undertaking a redesign of its bus network wherein more significant service or route changes could be considered as needed, MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said.
Buses connecting with LIRR or Metro-North stations is common throughout both systems.
Metro-North Railroad itself operates the Hudson Rail Link, which is a bus shuttle to Metro-North stations in the Bronx. In addition, NICE operates bus service between the Freeport LIRR station and the Jones Beach Theater during concerts.
At the Governors Ball Music Festival earlier this summer, the MTA operated express buses between the Lexington Avenue-125th Street subway station and Randall’s Island.
Resorts World Casino operates a shuttle bus at Aqueduct Racetrack between the casino and the North Conduit Avenue subway station, Donovan said.
Much of the increased demand, Donovan said, likely would be in the off-peak hours.