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CBS2 Exclusive: Major Transit Improvements Coming Ahead Of Belmont Stakes

ELMONT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Wednesday marks the opening of racing season on Long Island, and this year, the Long Island Rail Road and the Belmont Park racetrack are promising fans that they won't see a repeat of last year's commuter fiasco after the Belmont Stakes.

As CBS2's Dave Carlin reported exclusively Tuesday, more than 100,000 fans were hoping for a Triple Crown winner last year, but California Chrome failed to deliver. But they were even more disappointed when they got stuck waiting for LIRR trains at the Belmont station.

To prevent a repeat of last year's jam-up, construction crews have worked through a long winter and into spring to increase capacity of the Belmont train station.

"We have put in approximately $5 million in improvements, which is resulting in the construction of two new station platforms," said spokesman John Durso Jr. of the New York Racing Association.

Durso said the makeover includes new staircases to direct the big crowds right into the racetrack. The LIRR gave CBS2 the first exclusive peek at the new elevated platforms that will be ready to handle the racetrack's spring opening.

"What the Long Island Rail Road has done is they've extended the platforms to accommodate 10-car trains," Durso said. "Previously, they were able to accommodate eight-car trains."

Belmont racetrack fans said they hope the fix will solve their discomfort on big race days.

"A nightmare – it's like sardines," said Anthony Taddeo of Astoria, Queens. "You walk like a solider trying to get off there. Sometimes you miss a race because of it."

Workers continued to spruce up the track ahead of opening day, but there will be some new security rules – including a ban on drones and selfie sticks.

"Take all the selfies you want – just do it the old-fashioned way, with your hands – with your hands, with your arms, and with a smile," Durso said.

As for the Belmont Stakes, it's set for Saturday, June 6.

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