The War of Words Continues in Site Selection Process for New Buffalo NY Amtrak Station

A decision on a site for a new Amtrak station in Buffalo, New York, is not expected until late April, but it appears that a site in the Canalside neighborhood has been ruled out.

The Canalside site was not included in the list of sites that were studied by a consulting firm.

Some city officials say that Canalside was dropped from active consideration because inter-city buses could not be adequately accommodated there.

In the meantime, a New York congressman who has strongly supported renovating the former Central Terminal has attacked the consultant’s report for what he termed grossly inflated costs for that site.

Rep. Brian Higgins took issue with findings that returning passenger rail service to Central Terminal would cost between $68 million to $149 million, depending on the level of service provided and whether the facility would also serve local and inter-city buses.

Higgins said the costs could be cut by $6 million by giving up unnecessary improvements to the terminal concourse. Another $1.4 million could be saved by eliminating some elevators.

Higgins contends that renovating Central Terminal could be eligible for nearly $11.8 million in tax credits under state and federal programs for the renovation of historic properties.

Saying some members of the 17-member station selection committee don’t like the neighborhood around Central Terminal, Higgins accused them of trying to price Central Terminal out of contention.

At least one station site selection committee member has expressed doubt that Central Terminal is an appropriate site for a modern, intermodal transportation center.

Some committee members, who would not agreed to be named, believe Higgins is trying to hijack the station selection process.

Eugene Berardi Jr., president of Adirondack Trailways, said it would be difficult for buses to serve Central Terminal because of the low underpasses on the streets near the station.

He also said bus passengers want to be dropped off downtown to access Metro Rail and other public transportation.

Supporters of a downtown location say that an intermodal facility would be eligible for Federal Transit Administration funds as well as Federal Railroad Administration funding.

The consultant’s report lists three possible downtown sites for the new station:

  •  The site of the existing Amtrak station on Exchange Street
  •  A site just west of the existing station, nearer to Washington Street
  •  A site at Washington Street just south of the I-190

Support for Central Terminal has come from another source. Twenty-five architects have signed  a letter backing the Central Terminal as the site for a new Buffalo train station.

“This is about a lot more than where to put a train platform,” said Robert Stark, president of the American Institute of Architects, New York State, and a partner with CJS Architects in Larkinville, New York.

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