Congressman Brian Higgins is urging Amtrak to support Buffalo's Central Terminal site as the choice for a future train station.
Higgins, a strong supporter of reopening the shuttered East Side landmark to train service, has written a letter to the president and CEO of Amtrak, asking the company to clarify its long-term goals for Buffalo. In that same letter, Higgins states the case for choosing Central Terminal as a future station.
"It provides the best service to train travelers in Buffalo," Higgins told WBFO. "Any downtown site, including Canalside, you can't access points west."
Advocates for reopening the Central Terminal say it provides direct links to cities, including Chicago, that Amtrak's existing stations in downtown Buffalo and Depew do not necessarily provide.
Supporters have also noted that the site already provides the space to develop without the need to acquire nearby properties, forcing people out of homes or businesses.
Higgins also envisions a new train station in Central Terminal as the first step in a larger economic transformation of the city's Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood.
"When you make infrastructure investments, private sector investment follows. It is clear as can be," Higgins said. "While it's true Broadway-Fillmore has been in decline for several years, you can't just forget about it. It's a major piece of Buffalo's history and its future."
The Buffalo Train Station Site Selection Task Force, which formed shortly after a million-dollar challenge by Governor Andrew Cuomo, is also considering options downtown including Canalside. These candidates also have influential supporters, including Pegula Sports and Entertainment, owners of the Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Bills and HarborCenter.
Higgins believes moving the train station there would be a mistake. He called the choice of where to put Buffalo's future train station a "generational decision."
"Buffalo has fallen short many times in the past 30 or 40 years on these important decisions," he said. "This is not a technical issue. This is a political issue. It's going to take some vision. It's going to take some hard work, but we can get this thing done and we can do it right."
New York State is expected to release $25 million in 2019, provided to them by the federal government, for construction of a new Buffalo train station. Higgins anticipates additional matching federal dollars will also be made available for the project.