Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - A day after Governor Cuomo said the State would pay for a feasibility study on the location of a new Buffalo train station, but only if a decision is made within six months, there already appears to be a favorite.
Congressman Brian Higgins, State Senator Tim Kennedy, Assembly members Crystal Peoples Stokes and Seasn Ryan, and Buffalo Common Council member David Franczyk all stood in support of choosing the Central Terminal as the location for a new Amtrak station.
"Canalside is in my district, Larkinville is in may district, and those are great developments," Franczyk said. "The superior transportation benefits of this site is not the only reason this is a great project. It's because it benefits the East Side. All boats have to lift in the City of Buffalo."
Those who toured the site noted that existing infrastructure at the Central Terminal would allow access to Chicago, Toronto, Cleveland, and New York all through Buffalo, something not possible at the current Exchange Street site.
The benefit to the region was also cited.
"The Central Terminal is a symbol of neighborhood decay in the City of Buffalo," said Ryan. "People drive by it every day on the 190, look at it, and say these aren't good neighborhoods. We're not going to fix East Side neighborhoods if there's a great beacon of decay in the middle of it."
The state has already set aside $25 Million for a new Buffalo train station, though restoration of the Terminal would take much more. There is a proposal for redevelopment by Toronto based developer Harry Stinson, the designated preferred developer. Lawmakers say an Amtrak station would only enhance any redevelopment plans.
"If Amtrak comes in as the foundation tenant, we could do a lot of infrastructure repair around the whole terminal, even if Amtrak is a small part of it," Ryan said. "It will open doors for other tenants to come in."
On Thursday, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown announced that Dean of the University at Buffalo School of Architecture Robert Shibley will serve as the lead facilitator of the discussions on a location for the new station. Higgins, Ryan, and others said they will be involved in that decision.
Right now, the Terminal appears to be the favorite.
"Put me on the record today," said Peoples-Stokes. "I think all those other locations are considerable and we should look at them, but we don't have the time to put in that we put in to the Peace Bridge and what should happen with that. We don't have that time. Central Terminal."