Buffalo Central Terminal is Right for High Speed Rail
The Obama Administration’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan includes a large appropriation for the development of public transportation infrastructure, with a focus on rail: $9 billion in the stimulus package for high-speed rail across the country.
The Central Terminal Restoration Corporation feels that the Central Terminal is the best choice for Buffalo’s high-speed rail terminus.
Why Central Terminal?
Central Terminal is located along the Main Line track, is part of the Empire Corridor, and has the needed infrastructure to get trains in and out easily. The Empire Corridor is the 462 mile stretch of track beginning in New York City and ending in Buffalo at Central Terminal (mile post 437). Currently 50 trains pass Central Terminal daily.
Central Terminal is the only place near downtown that allows for the Chicago route as well as being linked to NYC and points south. According to New York State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, it looks likely that President Obama’s hometown Chicago will receive HSR stimulus funding. (Artvoice TV) A downtown based terminal would not have room to turn trains around to head to Chicago.
The Central Terminal was designed as an intermodal transportation facility, housing operations for not only passenger rail, but buses and taxi services, as well.
Expansion of light rail can easily connect the Central Terminal high-speed rail hub to downtown, the airport, and points north and south of Buffalo.
Central Terminal is 2.5 miles from downtown. By rail, taxi, rental car, and bus, travelers could be downtown in approximately 10 minutes.
Central Terminal is 4 miles from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
Historic preservation is a “green” solution, reusing existing materials and design and avoiding adding to landfills. Old buildings are easily adapted to “green” energy (wind, solar, gray water).
Historic preservation is a moral responsibility. Especially when demolition is too costly to be a feasible option.
Restoration of Central Terminal will help revitalize the East Side – “Why not make this investment? We can only do it one time. Why not make this investment in a historic facility on Buffalo’s east side. And not only resurrect this historic facility but also renovate the east side of Buffalo.” – Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (WKBW 4-16-09)
Why not other stations?
The Exchange Street station (downtown) is unable to get trains in and out of downtown quickly, and also lacks the north, south, and east right-of-way avenues that exist at the Central Terminal.
“The Buffalo (Exchange) station is a small brick structure adjacent to a highway overpass at the lower end of downtown. The station is served by a single track on the Niagara Falls Branch. As is the case with the Niagara Falls station, the Exchange Street facility has long been cited as inadequate to serve as Buffalo’s main station.” High Speed Rail Task Force (page 50)
A Buffalo to Niagara Falls high-speed connection is “essentially racing to a red light” – “Currently Amtrak runs at about 60 miles per hour from Buffalo to Niagara Falls. So for 20 miles, it takes you 20 minutes to get from Buffalo to Niagara Falls. If you rework all those tracks for all those crossings you are not going to scream along at 100 miles per hour. To even reach that speed would take about five miles, and then you’d already have to start slowing down again. You’d reach the falls in between 12.7 and 13.2 minutes. If you put a high-speed line up to Niagara Falls, you are essentially racing to the red light.” – Mark Lewandowski (Artvoice “Catching That Train” 4-5-09)
US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) supports Central Terminal as the HSR Hub – “There may be new life for the old building, according to New York’s Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Citing the success of terminal restoration in Washington and New York, she thinks the same can be done in Buffalo. New York state is seriously pursuing the construction of high speed rail between BUF and NYC and the federal government, pushed by Sens Gillibrand and Schumer, is putting up billions for the project. They hope a revitalized Central Terminal will promote further commercial development in its neighborhood, which today is seriously blighted.” (Trains Magazine)
“Why not make this investment? We can only do it one time. Why not make this investment in a historic facility on Buffalo’s east side. And not only resurrect this historic facility but also renovate the east side of Buffalo.” – Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (WKBW 4-16-09)
The Buffalo Common Council passed a resolution of support for using part of the stimulus money to make the Central Terminal the home of the city’s new high speed rail service. – March 2009
The Central Terminal Complex is 523,000 square feet.
The concourse measures 225′ by 66′ (14,850 sq ft) and has various side rooms available for stores, restaurants, museum space etc.
The tower is 15 stories (271′ high) and has 4 elevators and several dumbwaiters. Large floor plans allow for mixed use including hotel space, residential, condos, office space, artist lofts, etc.
The Baggage Building is 5 floors and measures 350′ by 60′ (approx 105,000 sq ft). Open floor plans plus truck and rail access allow for office space and light industry.
Underground parking garage, secured and covered, with space for 400 vehicles.
Central Terminal is located near upgraded high-speed fiber optic internet services and can be easily adapted for modern commerce and logistical support.
The Central Terminal complex qualifies for:
Federal: Historic Preservation Tax Incentives, the New Markets Tax Credit Program, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, SAFETEA-LU Transportation Funding
State: Empire Zone Designation, Renewal Community Designation, Brownfield Redevelopment
Local: Erie County Industrial Development Agency programs, Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency programs, City of Buffalo PILOT programs, City of Buffalo Historic Property Exemption Law
See all our blog posts on High Speed Rail