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Kennedy tours Metro Rail, says state funding will pay for improvements

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State Senator Tim Kennedy was joined by other elected leaders and NFTA officials late last week for a tour of Buffalo's aging Metro Rail system.

Metro Rail was built in the early 1980s and has been operating since 1984-85.

Kennedy succeeded in securing $100 million in state funding for capital improvements of the system over the next five years. After years of neglect, Kennedy said repair and restoration work is long overdue.

"It's not just about the look of the system. It's actually about its functionality," Kennedy said. "It's an aging system. You can imagine it's going to see some significant capital issues."

Among the problems include track that has rusted beyond repair, a crumbling track bed and escalators at Metro Rail stations that need to be replaced. The first $20 million this year will begin the process of addressing these problems.

He said investing in public transit will go a long way in providing a boost to local economic development efforts.

"We need to make sure we have a public transit system that works," Kennedy said. "We need to feed that fire of growth we've seen."

Kennedy said another $6 million in state funding this year will help complete preliminary design of a Metro Rail extension in Amherst.

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.