Critical Issues Going Forward For Elmont Station

There are still many questions regarding the MTA contract award to Judlau Construction Inc. for $65,077,339 to construct the Elmont Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station.

Total cost is suppose to be $105 million. What is the $40 million balance paying for? Costs will be further refined as the project progresses through completion of design and engineering, followed by change orders to this contract during construction, due to last minute changes in scope or unforeseen site conditions. Who will be responsible for additional costs?

‘Will there be any costs to modify, upgrade or build new interlockings and signals 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? Is there a detailed project budget, force account (LIRR employees) plan, track outage plan and schedule to validate the cost and project completion schedule to coincide with the opening of the arena, less than 21 months away?

Finishing positive train control will be the LIRR’s No. 1 priority in 2020. Completion of the $2.6 billion main line third track and the $11.2 billion East Side access to Grand Central Terminal will be the Nos. 2 and 3 priority until the end of 2022. How many other ongoing and new projects to be funded out of the $5.6 billion LIRR share of the $51 billion 2020-24 MTA’s five-year capital plan will be a higher priority than construction of the new Elmont station?

They are all necessary to preserve existing assets and equipment to support the day to day safe, reliable service that riders count on. How will the LIRR integrate all of this work into the upcoming 2020-22 master track outages and force account plans to support the agencies overall annual capital and maintenance programs?

It remains a challenge for the LIRR to complete various capital improvements to support the Islanders Arena October 2021 opening with only 21 months to go. These include the east-bound south platform (serving the Hempstead branch) for the new Elmont station by that date. What about the overpass, elevators and west bound platform by end of 2022? When trains are canceled and combined due to problems in the East River tunnels and other locations, will service to the Elmont station be exempt?

Station renderings do not show riders lined up waiting for electric shuttle buses for a one mile trip to the Islanders Belmont Park Arena. How long will it take to board and exit the buses to and from the arena? There does not appear to be any provisions for bus shelters or a canopy. What will the frequency of service be and how many buses can be accommodated at the same time for boarding?

What is the current status as to who is going to purchase, operate and maintain this new fleet of buses? Will they be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act?
Who will build a facility for maintenance, storage and powering up electric shuttle buses? What are the capacity of these electric buses? Industry standards vary on size to accommodate from 20 to 60 riders.

Will investing $105 million for the new Elmont LIRR station be worth it? Time will tell when the first puck hits the ice.

Larry Penner is a transportation historian, writer and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for the MTA, NYC Transit, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Rail Road MTA bus, along with 30 other transit agencies.

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Larry Penner
Larry Penner is a transportation historian, advocate and writer who previously worked 31 years for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for grants supporting billions in capital projects and programs on behalf of the MTA, LIRR, Metro North, NYC Transit, NYC DOT, New Jersey Transit, NICE bus and 30 other NY and NJ transit operators. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher or Anton Media Group.

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