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Central Terminal as new Amtrak Station gaining Momentum

After an announcement that Governor Cuomo was allocating $1 million to study potential train station sites in Buffalo, a number of local leaders have come out in support of the initiative. The leaders are taking a hard look at the Central Terminal as one of the leading candidates for an Amtrak station. While this site has not yet been designated a ‘go’, there is increased interest in the formerly abandoned historic rail location. 

Congressman Brian Higgins, NYS Senator Tim Kennedy, NYS Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Buffalo Common Councilman David Franczyk and Buffalo Central Terminal Restoration Corp Director Mark Lewandowski are all meeting at the Central Terminal at 11am today (Thursday, October 27) to explore the site and discuss the terminal’s full potential.

It’s only a matter of time before the Buffalo Exchange Street Station is no more. The disgrace of a station will be replaced, most likely, by an inter-model station. The Central Terminal has been designated as a key potential site that would accommodate the current and future needs of travelers. The terminal would also be a major development for the East Side. 

Recently, a Canadian developer has been eyeing the historic structure, the complex, and the grounds that surround the iconic tower. If local leaders made an earnest push to relocate the city’s Amtrak Station to the terminal, that would be a major economic incentive for the developer. The last train left the Central Terminal in 1979.

The funding for this new study is made possible thanks in part to Congressman Higgins who requested that the New York State Department of Transportation release funds earlier than scheduled. The funds are to review options for a new Amtrak station.

“Governor Cuomo just put Buffalo on track for a transportation transformation,” said Higgins.  “This is a new day in Buffalo, one where we move forward with confidence that we can not only dream big but achieve great things for Western New York.  I look forward to working with the State, City and community on this effort to make smart decisions about our future.”

The Common Council supported Higgins in his plan to use $1 million out of the $2 million in New York State transportation funds allocated to study the Central Terminal as an appropriate site for the city’s new train station. The Governor conceded to advancing the funds, which will see a 6-month study of possible new sites for the outdated Amtrak station.

Currently, there are those who see the Central Terminal as the obvious choice, while others point to downtown Buffalo as the natural fit. At this point, it looks as if The Central Terminal is gaining the most traction, possibly due to the interest of a significant developer waiting in the wings.

“With the location of the Central Terminal at the main line tracks and at the belt line tracks which surrounds the city of Buffalo, I would agree that this site should be considered as the primary rail station for WNY,” said CTRC Director Mark Lewandowski.  “Especially since Amtrak currently owns the passenger loading platforms adjacent to the Central Terminal complex.”

Restoration, as envisioned in the Buffalo Central Terminal Master Plan, suggests a multi-modal hub connecting Amtrak passengers with bus/taxi service, pedestrian and bicycle trails, potential light rail expansion and capacity for high speed rail.  The site is eligible for various federal, state and local historic and economic incentives. 

“Reusing the Central Terminal as a multi-modal transportation hub for Amtrak makes sense. It pays homage to the building’s history as the gateway into Buffalo for thousands of WNYers, helps restore an iconic structure on the national and state historic registers, brings more activity back to Broadway Fillmore’s neighborhood, and allows access to westward passenger rail lines. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his challenge and implore my colleagues in government to make this happen,” stated Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, Assembly Member of the 141st District.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

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