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NFTA Taking Next Step Towards Light Rail Extension

The next step in extending the light rail line into Amherst is out for bid. The NFTA is seeking a transportation planning environmental and engineering design consultant team to complete the environmental review process required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) along with up to 30 percent preliminary design and engineering for the proposed Amherst-Buffalo Corridor Light Rail Extension.

Earlier this year the NFTA chose a preferred alignment for the expansion. The Niagara Falls Boulevard Alternative alignment continues light rail service from the existing terminus at University Metro Rail Station extending underground along Bailey Avenue to a portal on Eggert Road between Bailey Avenue and Niagara Falls Boulevard where it would continue at-grade on Niagara Falls Boulevard to Maple Road to Sweet Home Road, onto and through University at Buffalo’s North Campus to Audubon Parkway where it would terminate near the I-990 interchange.

The alignment would begin at the South Campus Station and utilize the existing run out tunnel to Bailey Avenue. The concept alignment will continue underground below Bailey Avenue and Eggert Road to a portal in near Alberta Drive. Once at the surface, the concept alignment would utilize a dedicated guideway in the center of Niagara Falls Boulevard ROW to the Boulevard Mall.

North of Sheridan Drive, the guideway would be constructed within the existing Niagara Falls Boulevard median and would continue in the center of Maple Road to Sweet Home Road. The concept alignment would utilize dedicated guideway rail lines in the center of Sweet Home Road to a point near the Rensch Road Entrance to the UB North Campus.

On the campus the concept alignment would utilize surface lanes running parallel to and south of Putnam Way. The concept alignment would exit the UB campus utilizing a surface guideway and travel in the median of John James Audubon Parkway to the I-990. The LRT alignment would be located in the median of I-990 on newly constructed guideway to Crosspoint Business Park. New or widened bridges would be utilized at existing grade crossings. The guideway would be elevated on a new structure from the I-990 median into the Crosspoint Business Park.

By 2035, the extension is expected to add 22,000 daily boardings to the system, including 13,300 from UB. Estimated construction cost is $1.249 billion.

The consultant will complete the environmental review process, coordinate with and seek concurrence with the Federal Transit Administration during the project development process, and complete 30 percent design and engineering documents. The work is expected to take up to two years to complete. Bids are due October 13.

Written by Buffalo Rising

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