Letter: Doubts About New LIRR Station

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Governor Cuomo claims it will only cost $105 million to pay for a new full-time Elmont LIRR station between Bellrose and Queens Village on the Main Line and upgrades to the existing spur for part-time events at Belmont Park Islanders Arena Station. How did he come up with this number? A reliable cost estimate takes more than just a press release with station renderings prepared by Empire State Development Corporation project consultant. What about costs to modify, upgrade or build new interlockings along the Main Line? Will there be any costs for modification to the Positive Train Control project? How will this project be integrated with Main Line Third Track, Jamaica Capacity Improvements and other nearby LIRR capital and routine maintenance projects? Cuomo offered no detailed project budget, procurement strategy, force account plan, track outage plan and schedule to validate both the $106 million cost and project completion to coincide with the Islanders Belmont Arena opening 27 months away.

Costs will be further refined as the project progresses through completion of the environmental review process, preliminary and final design, award of construction contracts followed by change orders to the base contracts during construction, due to last minute changes in scope or unforeseen site conditions.

If Governor Cuomo, ESDC, MTA, LIRR, elected officials, consultants and their respective employees are so confident in the $106 million price tag, let them put up their respective retirement pensions, 401Ks and mortgage their homes as collateral. They can cover any inevitable future cost overruns.

Station renderings of the new station did not show LIRR riders lined up waiting for electric shuttle buses for a one-mile trip to the Islanders Belmont Park Arena. The ESDC consulting firm advised that only the south side platform serving customers coming from Jamaica could be ready in time of the October 2021 Arena opening. The north side platform serving fans coming from points east might not be ready until 2023. Will the station be in compliance with Americans with Disability Act and include bathrooms? Most will end up driving or using a car service.

Who is going to purchase, operate and maintain electric shuttle buses? Will they be in compliance with ADA? Who will build a maintenance facility for the electric buses? Will there be enough equipment during peak periods to simultaneously serve both LIRR riders traveling to the Islanders Arena, hotel, conference center, movie theater and retail complex, while at the same time providing shuttle service within Belmont Park parking lots to the Arena? What are the capacity of these electric buses which can vary based on size from 20 to 50 riders?

—Larry Penner


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