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.
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."