Posts Tagged ‘Buffalo Depew station’

NY Congressman Still Pushing to Make Buffalo Central Terminal an Amtrak Station

April 17, 2018

A New York Congressman is not giving up his efforts to convert the vacant Buffalo Central Terminal into an Amtrak station.

Brian Higgins is continuing to push Amtrak to use the former New York Central depot despite the fact that the New York Department of Transportation plans to build a new Buffalo depot at the site of the current Exchange Street station.

That $25 million project is slated to get underway this fall.

“Almost 90 percent of respondents to the site selection committee . . . preferred the Central Terminal. So this is not a decision that’s widely supported by the public to site a new Amtrak station in downtown Buffalo,” Higgins said.

Higgins planned to attend an information open house being hosted by NYDOT to prod it into reconsidering Central Terminal.

“Keep in mind, that the downtown location for a brand new Amtrak station, you cannot access 65 percent of America,” he said.

Amtrak would continue to serve a station it built in suburban Depew, New York. The Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited would continue to stop at Depew along with Empire Service trains and the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf.

The Lake Shore Limited is not expected to use the new Buffalo station because that would require a long back-up move.

Aside from its historic character, Higgins said renovating Central Terminal would enable Amtrak to close Depew station.

“There’s tremendous benefits with historic tax credits. A developer could save 30 percent or more of the entire project cost,” Higgins said. “With a tenant in there like Amtrak, the Central Terminal becomes that much more attractive for a private developer that wants to do mixed-use development including retail.”

Buffalo Station Makes Endangered List

October 19, 2017

Buffalo’s Central Terminal has made a list of dubious distinction. It has been added to the 2018 World Monuments Watch, a group of international cultural heritage sites facing “daunting threats.”

The former New York Central depot that was used by Amtrak between 1975 and 1979 and for a time in 1971, is No. 22 on the list.

Closed in 1979, the station has undergone some renovation in recent years. However, it was bypassed when Amtrak recently sought a site for a new Buffalo station.

Amtrak has two stations in the  Buffalo region. These include a small and antiquated station at Exchange Street in the city and a station in suburban Depew.

Buffalo Committee Favors Downtown Station Site

April 24, 2017

The committee studying sites for a new Amtrak station in Buffalo, New York, has recommended building the station downtown rather than renovating the abandoned Buffalo Central Terminal.

The exact site will be chosen by the New York Department of Transportation, although it is expected to be along Exchange Street.

The new station is expected to cost at least $35 million, of which the state is contributing $25 million.

Currently, Buffalo is served by two stations, one at Exchange Street and the other in suburban Depew.

Exchange Street serves all trains passing through Buffalo except the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited.

Eleven of the 17 members of the station site committee favored a downtown location while four voted against downtown. One member abstained.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz voted against the downtown recommendation because he opposed the “arbitrary timeline” given the committee to make a decision this month.

“Not all the issues were taken into account,” Poloncarz said. “The process was flawed but not rigged. And, no, this is not the death knell for the [Buffalo] Central Terminal.”

But Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown defended the timeline. “The governor clearly wants it to be a fast-track process, and I think the same kind of time constraints we had as a committee will be placed on the Department of Transportation,” said Brown, who voted for a downtown location.

A downtown location had been favored by WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, an engineering consulting firm hired by the state.

Howard Zemsky, a Buffalo businessman and head of Empire State Development, the state’s development arm, voted for downtown.

“This is really a transportation decision first and foremost, and from that standpoint downtown is a clear winner,” he said.

Zemsky said it was not a case of either or in terms of development of the long-dormant Central Terminal.

The Amtrak representative on the committee favored a downtown location. CSX, which owns the tracks in the vicinity of Central Terminal, said it doesn’t want passenger trains at Central Terminal because that might interfere with a nearby freight yard.

Intercity bus companies also favor a downtown site because they fear that clearance issues could prevent them from serving Central Terminal.

Also working against Central Terminal was the estimated $68 million to $149 million cost of renovating the structure. A downtown location is estimated to cost between $33 million and $86 million.

The Buffalo congressman who had championed Central Terminal was disappointed at the committee’s decision.

“This is a generational opportunity lost, said Brian Higgins said. “Obviously, the Central Terminal was not going to win out in an apples-to-apples cost comparison. It’s the vision you have for the property, and what you do with the opportunity.”

Higgins said the downtown location will preclude passengers being able to board there if they are bound for Cleveland or Chicago.

He noted that Amtrak opposes having the Lake Shore Limited backing up for more than a mile to serve downtown Buffalo.

Higgins vowed to work to funnel state and federal funding toward development of Central Terminal.

State Sen. Tim Kennedy supported the Central Terminal and believes that although it lost out in the vote to become an Amtrak station there remains hope that the iconic structure will have a new life.

“There has been more attention paid to the Central Terminal than probably in the last 50 years,” Kennedy said. “I think this is going to be at the end of the day a win-win because of the renewed focus on transforming the Central Terminal into a historic building we can all be proud of once again.”

In the meantime, Canadian developer Harry Stinson said he is close to closing on a deal to acquire the 523,000-square-foot Central Terminal, which includes a 17-story tower, concourse building, baggage building and ample underground and street-level parking.

“We’re days away from the final version of the agreement,” Stinson said. “It will have to go through a process, but the agreement is essentially done. There is nothing we see as collectively insurmountable.”

Stinson said he wants to develop the tower into office space, use the concourse for entertainment, dining and special events and transform the baggage building into a hotel.

Eventually, he will develop new housing at the site, which is now considered a brownfield.

Bison Statue Placed at Buffalo Amtrak Station

September 27, 2014

Drive around Buffalo, N.Y., and you’ll find a number of bison statues. Now, the primary Amtrak station serving Buffalo has one, too.

The fiberglass bison statue was dedicated on Sept. 23 in front of the station.

“Today we’re here to take a step back in history, and history going forward,” said Bruce B. Becker, president of the Empire State Passengers Association.

Also on hand were representatives of the Western New York Railway Historical Society, Amtrak and the state Department of Transportation.

Appropriately enough, the statue was fabricated in Buffalo, Minn., and shipped to New York State in a crate that resembled an animal pen.

The Minnesota company also created several other bison statues that have been erected around Buffalo.

The statue at the Amtrak station in suburban Depew sits on a concrete pad and is painted in the natural brown hues of the animal that is represents.

During the heyday of Buffalo Central Terminal on the city’s East Side at two bison statues greeted travelers.

The first was named “Stuffy” was stood on display from 1929 to 1945. Owned by the Buffalo Museum of Science since 1895, it was created with fine iron wire and a thin frame of papier-mache, topped by a bison hide.

During World War II, servicemen passing through the station often rubbed “Stuffy” for good luck. The bison substituted for a rabbit’s foot – a more traditional good luck charm, Skoney said. Stuffy eventually returned to the museum where it continues to be displayed.

A second bison, a plaster statute painted bronze, replaced “Stuffy” and continued to keep watch until Amtrak ceased using the station in October 1979.

That bison was destroyed when a truck backed into it as artifacts were being removed from the terminal complex.

Dave Skoney, a member of the passenger association and the railway historical society, tried for several years to get a bison placed outside the Depew station, which was built in 1979.

It wasn’t until the station was renovated in 2012 that the foundation for the statue was laid.

“Somehow … a cement pad was put into the construction plans,” Becker said. “That jump-started the effort to get the bison in place.”

A fundraising campaign to buy a bison statue netted about $3,500. “We got donations from across the state and even out of Canada,” said Joseph Kocsis, president of the railway historical society.

The bison outside the Depew station has been immediately noticed by travelers, including some who noticed it during the installation process. “They immediately came out and took pictures with the bison,” Becker said.