The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority went back to the public Thursday night to show off its latest version of plans for extending Metro Rail north into Amherst.
The plan has been changed extensively and has become a high-profile project. This latest proposal has a fairly definite design.
Cutting back tunnelling along Niagara Falls Boulevard to near Kenilworth Road cuts out a substantial amount of drilled tunnel and an underground station. NFTA Executive Director Kim Minkel said that will save $200 million.
From there, the route would stay on the boulevard to Maple Road, then over Maple and Sweet Home Road to the University at Buffalo North Campus. Eventually, Minkel said, it might extend to the I-990.
She said the next stage is doing the environmental studies for the proposal.
"It's pretty extensive, when you consider that we need to take a look at many different things," she said. "We need to take a look at traffic impact, noise, vibration, air quality, impact on any historic property. That will take about two years."
If federal dollars begin to show up, there are further design and engineering stages leading to a potential start to construction in 2025.
Members of the public attending the session at Sweet Home Middle School Thursday evening had an array of views, with some wavering, some flat-out opposed and some seeing the extension as a real benefit to the community. Colin said it is an improvement for the future.
"This is a good start to building a more healthy transit system," he said. "This would be a strong spine that NFTA can then build off of, with possibly more light rail trains, street cars, things like that. I feel that this would be a good anchor that things can go off of, for the future."
Those opposed were mostly homeowners who live in the mostly residential first blocks of Niagara Falls Boulevard, the initial path of the extension. Joan Hoppe-Spink lives nearby.
"This is a completely residential area, north and south, five to seven blocks," she said. "I am just amazed that they would consider having that trolley go right through that residential area. The noise, both above ground and below ground, the vibration, the impact. I believe that the homes would go down in value."