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Contract awarded for construction of new downtown train station

Campaign for Greater Buffalo
This concept flips the station entrance to the south side of the I-190 and elevates it to the Washington and Main street grades.

It has been a long time coming, but the New York State Department of Transportation says it has awarded a contract to design and build a new Exchange Street train station in downtown Buffalo.

The DOT says construction will begin early next year, with local companies doing the work: Foit-Albert Associates are the architects, while Hohl Industrial Services and Scrufari Construction are the builders.

The plan is for the current station to be demolished and for passengers will use a temporary station, until the new one is completed in the fall of 2020.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
The current Amtrak station on Exchange Street.

Bruce Becker, Vice President of Operations for the Rail Passengers Association, says the new station will be elevated, twice the size and a vast improvement over the current one, built in 1952.

"The new statiion is going to be night and day over what Amtrak passengers have experienced for many, many years in downtown Buffalo," said Becker. "It'll be modern. It'll be bright. It will be a high-level platform, which means you'll be able to exit the train right onto a platform - no going up and down stairs with heavy luggage - all of which makes it more attractive for riders."

The cost of the new station is estimated at $27.7 million. Located near such popular destinations as Canalside and KeyBank Center, what will be a state-of-the-art rail hub is expected to be great for tourism and economic development.

"Representing the passengers of both New York State and the nation, indeed, while having a nice, new station is certainly a great bonus for passengers, the reliability of the service and increased service would be a goal that hope the state would be looking at in the next steps to improve overall transportation for the state," Becker said.

About 38,000 passengers use the Exchange Street station, which is an important stop connecting New York City and Toronto.

"Ridership was about even with the last year of Amtrak's budget year, but we are seeing increases at the locations that do have new stations," Becker said. "Rochester is up slightly within the last year and we certainly think that with a new station in downtown Buffalo - close by to Canalside, close by to the arena - that ridership would increase there also."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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