Construction begins on temporary downtown Amtrak station
If you happen to travel along downtown Buffalo's Exchange Street, the Amtrak train station is clearly visible. What's new is the construction swirling around a temporary station, perhaps 100 yards down the track.
The temporary station allows the current worn and outdated facility to be torn down and replaced with a new $25 million station. The demolition is expected to take place next month.
Bruce Becker, Vice President of Operations for the Rail Passengers Association, has been watching the construction start.
"It's been a long time coming and it's extremely significant that the new station will be located downtown on Exchange Street," Becker said. "It will be an up-to-date, modern facility. A high-level platform so passengers will not have to climb stairs up and down to get onto the train. It will be modern. It will be certainly a great gateway to Canalside."
The national advocate for passenger trains said the new station has lots of improvements.
"The entire environment will be vastly improved," said Becker. "It will no longer be down in the hole like it is currently below Exchange Street. The new building will be level with Exchange Street. You will be able to pull up and walk directly into it from Exchange, walk through it, then down onto this new high-level platform which will ease boarding onto the train."
There were several dozen passengers waiting Sunday for the much-delayed Train 63 from Manhattan and equally long-delayed Train 288 from Niagara Falls. The station itself was closed and there aren't benches or places to sit, so people wandered, waited, looked at their phones, even sat in waiting cars.
Jean was heading to New York City and was aware it takes time.
"I really love the view. That's why I like this long ride," she said. "If it were an ugly ride, I wouldn't like it so much, at all. It's a really pretty ride."
Some in the station had come from a distance. Chris Silcox was there with his kids, coming in from London, ON to go to New York City.
"We've got a new station in London, so it's quite different just being at kind of outdoor landing," he said.
The New York Department of Transportation said the new station will open late next year.