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Extending the Metro Rail to UB’s North Campus

Another workshop is scheduled that concerns the extension of the Metro Rail to University at Buffalo’s North Campus. On Tuesday, September 24 (5-7pm at Sweet Home Middle School) The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) will present the latest concept design and updated station design plans. The workshop will also lay out traffic analysis results, as well as initial environmental analyses and impacts.

Last February, Empire State Development and the NFTA Board of Commissioners announced that they awarded the environmental review and associated engineering design service contract to the Buffalo office of WSP Inc., one of the world’s largest engineering firms, for Phase I in the Amherst Metro Rail Extension. The work is under the financial umbrella of the Buffalo Billion II program.

After completing a Transit Options Amherst-Buffalo Alternatives Analysis (AA) in 2017 (see here) that designated a Niagara Falls Boulevard alignment, the NFTA began the environmental review and associated engineering design service contract process. Moving forward, the NFTA and the Buffalo office of WSP Inc. will take the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA), and implement an environmental review process that includes a preliminary design focusing on the determined route: an extension from the existing terminus at University Station underground along Bailey Avenue to a portal near Eggert Road. It would then travel at grade along Niagara Falls Boulevard turning onto Maple Road then to Sweet Home Road, onto UB North Campus to Audubon Parkway where it would terminate near the I-990.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) is proposing to expand the existing light-rail transit (LRT) (Metro Rail) from the existing Metro-Rail terminus at University Station, along Kenmore Avenue, Niagara Falls Boulevard, Maple Road, and Sweet Home Road, through the University at Buffalo (UB)-North Campus to Audubon Parkway and I-990. A light maintenance/storage facility is proposed at the end of the line. – Final Scoping Document

At a previous workshop, held back in June, the following materials were presented:

View the Final Scoping Document

Submit comments online – For example, why are we running the Metro Rail to the North Campus, when we should be running it to the airport? Take the funds that are saved and apply them to disinvesting in the North Campus and investing in the two established urban campuses (along the Main Street spine, already connected by Metro Rail). Then build out the Beltline. This would return Buffalo to a highly functioning city, where students are the heart of downtown. Wouldn’t it be great to rally around UB in ways that we don’t currently, because it is so far removed? Wouldn’t it be fun to catch a UB Bulls game downtown? Or attend classes Downtown? Wouldn’t it be impressive to see thousands of students supporting urban cafés and restaurants, while living in the heart of the city? Think of the added benefits of student musicians and artists that would enhance the city’s cultural quality of life. And the students that would consider staying in Buffalo because of the urban experience, instead of the faux environment that exists today. Extending the Metro Rail to UB’s North Campus is shortsighted – it’s like applying a Bandaid to an old open wound. The only thing that we can hope for with this new Metro Rail extension is that a few more UB students choose to live downtown, because they will be able to commute to the North Campus. But honestly, the North Campus is designed to retain students – it’s a self contained campus with all of the amenities that students need, which is why we see so few students even venturing into the city. And with a Metro Rail extension, they might see it as a convenience to get off campus and head to Niagara Falls Boulevard to eat and shop, and not even consider Downtown. Remember, students are here when the weather turns cold – it’s a time of year when the waterfront is not nearly as exciting as during the summer months (hopefully that will change in the future). There’s also the hope that people living in the suburbs will take advantage of the added convenience of multiple stations along the route (from LaSalle Station to North Campus), which would ideally bring boatloads of suburbanites into the city on a daily basis, but that’s just wishful thinking and fairly unpredictable. Have we really thought this one through? Let’s hope so, because this plan is in action.

Lead image: NFTA rendering of UB North Campus station (Empire State Development)

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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