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LIRR station for new Belmont arena on its way, thanks to upfront state funds from ESD

So, is the new Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station at Elmont, set to serve the new UBS Arena at Belmont Park, actually on its way?

The answer seems to be yes, thanks significantly to upfront funding from Empire State Development, the state authority that oversees/shepherds the Belmont arena project.

In July, NBC reported that this new station--the first new full-time LIRR Station to be built in more than four decades--was among projects that might not come to fruition, without significant aid to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from the federal government. (I cited this in a 11/15/20 post.)

But the LIRR page regarding this new station indicates that, as of September, work on the station has started, noting that "The south platform is scheduled to open in Autumn 2021"--in time for the 2021-22 hockey season, assuming the arena opens to spectators--"and the full station by the end of 2022."

Financing issues

According to the LIRR:
Constructing the new full-time station on the LIRR’s Main Line and upgrading the existing spur is estimated to cost $105 million. The arena developers will cover $97 million – 92 percent of the total cost – and the State will invest $8 million.
It's not quite that simple. The LI Herald reported 11/24/20:
Last September, the MTA board added the project to its 2015-2019 capital plan, with the understanding that ESD would transfer $105 million from its budget to the transportation authority. ESD will contribute $75 million, with developers New York Arena Partners adding $30 million up front and reimbursing the state interest-free over the next 30 years, according to former Federal Transportation Administration official Larry Penner. The project is now fully funded, MTA officials said.
That's not quite the same thing, since that interest-free financing saves the developers enormously.  Neil deMause, writing in Gothamist 7/9/19, estimated that such a financing arrangement offered a $33 million public bonus to the developers.

(I queried the MTA a week ago and will update this if/when I get further official word.)

Details on the station

From the LIRR:
The new train station will be located between the Queens Village and Bellerose stations on the LIRR’s Main Line, straddling the Cross Island Parkway. Electric shuttle buses – which are already planned to run from parking lots within Belmont Park to the arena site – will also serve LIRR riders traveling to the grandstand and planned arena, hotel and retail village. The new full-time station will relieve pressure on the existing Belmont spur station during major events like the Belmont Stakes and will provide critically needed redundancy if there is a service disruption to the spur.

The new Elmont Station will provide direct service to Belmont Park from both the east and west, as opposed to the LIRR spur, which can only provide westbound service. Now, travelers who live east of Belmont on the Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma branches will have a one-seat public transit ride straight to Belmont Park. This will reduce travel times and is expected to increase the number of event attendees who use public transportation rather than driving, reducing congestion.
Pending questions: shuttle buses

The LI Herald also quoted former Federal Transportation Administration official Larry Penner, a noted transit gadfly:
There have been no announcements about who will purchase, operate and maintain a fleet of shuttle buses that will serve 3,000 to 5,000 riders, he pointed out, and the bus manufacturers already have a backlog of up to two years for orders for other transit agencies.

Without the buses, Penner said, train riders would have to walk 10 minutes from the station to the new arena for Islanders games, concerts and other events. 

Now, ten minutes is not that bad, even in winter, but the point is--there remain potential bottlenecks.

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