By Adrienne Boudreau:
The New York State Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced a series of scheduled public hearings across upstate New York during March to discuss high-speed rail. With the required Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement behind them the agencies are hosting 6 public hearings in cities along the 463 mile corridor between Niagara Falls and New York City between March 4 -14.
State officials say that high-speed trains could increase tourism and economic development in upstate New York. It would also reduce highway traffic and the pollution associated with it. Shrinking the travel time between the two biggest cities in the state would make upstate much more accessible than ever before.
According to the project vision, the goal is to increase train ridership by improving the on-time-performance to make travel more reliable, reduce the trip time to make travel more comparable to automobiles and airplanes, increase the train frequency to give citizens more options, and revitalize stations to improve comfort and access.
Costs of the various plans considered range from $1.7 – $6.2 billion. The most expensive includes a third track dedicated only to high-speed passenger trains between Schenectady and the Depew Amtrak station. After the state selects an option approval from the FRA is not expected to happen for 6 months up until a year.
Currently, trains west of Schenectady can only travel up to 79 mph although trains between Albany and Manhattan can travel up to 110 mph.
Buffalo residents will get their time to listen and respond to the presentation March 6 at the Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum, 263 Michigan Avenue.
An open house with displays and experts available for questions will be held from 4 – 8 p.m. The public hearing will be held from 6 – 8 p.m. with the presentation scheduled at 6 p.m.
The public hearing will be recorded and speakers signed up are asked to keep their slot less than 3 minutes long. Groups are requested to designate a single spokesperson to maintain efficiency.