Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) points to the recent deterioration of the Buffalo Amtrak Station as an urgent reminder that Western New York can do much better. In a letter to the New York State Transportation Commissioner, Higgins calls for immediate release of a small portion of the $25 million set aside for the train station to begin a full and formal review of options for a new station including a potential new location at Canalside or Buffalo’s Central Terminal.
Last week the Congressman’s office was notified of issues related to the roof that will lead to temporary closure of the building with continuation of service in Buffalo.
Higgins points out that $25 million is included for the Buffalo train station in the New York State Fiscal Year 2015-2020 Transportation Capital Program. That allocation is currently slated for expenditure in 2019 and 2020. Higgins suggests that an early release of an amount necessary for a formal analysis of alternatives, estimated to be in the $1-$2 million range, would allow for stronger application for federal transportation funding.
The Congressman notes the current station in Buffalo is among the worst in the nation and suggests the region is deserving of a new station, potentially at a location other than the existing Exchange Street site that better fits the needs of the city today.
“It may not have been possible 15 years ago, but restoration of the Central Terminal is possible in the new Buffalo,” Higgins states in his letter to Commissioner Driscoll.
Higgins also suggests Canalside among potential viable alternatives, “…the prospect of visitors to Buffalo having their first impression be of our burgeoning downtown waterfront instead of the underside of a Thruway viaduct is very compelling.”
The Buffalo-Exchange Street Station was built in 1952 and in 2015 saw a ridership in excess of 116,000 passengers. Significant investments have been made to other stations throughout the State and in Western New York including: the ongoing $16.5 million project underway in Niagara Falls supported through the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program and a $770,000 renovation to the Depew station in 2012 funded through the Federal Railroad Administration’s High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program.
“If we begin to lay the groundwork today this community will be well positioned to take advantage of the next opportunity to secure federal transportation funding for Buffalo’s train station,” Higgins argues.