By Maura Christie
The Niagara Falls International Railway Station on Lockport Road is currently the only terminal available to train travelers coming to the Niagara Falls area. Set to be completed in May 2016, a new terminal will be moved to Whirlpool Street and officially renamed as the Niagara Falls International Railway Station and Intermodal Transportation Center.
Tom Martinelli, publisher of New York By Rail, said he thinks the new Amtrak station is a very positive development for the community.
"In my opinion, the current Niagara Falls Amtrak station is not very welcoming for travelers. The station is not open for all departures, and there are limited amenities available for travelers. In addition, the station is not located in an area convenient to downtown Niagara Falls - approximately four miles from downtown Niagara Falls and Niagara Falls State Park," he said.
The current terminal is open seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. usually with only three departing times per day. This does not give travelers many options. There is one ticket window with only one employee working it at a time. But at this small terminal where only about eight travelers are waiting at a time, this is all travelers need.
Whether a train is departing or arriving at the current train terminal, the area leading up to it is not very welcoming to the train's passengers. Glancing out the window, one will see graffiti on buildings, junk yards with crushed, rusty old cars and piles of garbage. Rather than attract tourists to the area, this sight would have them wanting to turn back the other way.
Niagara University student Micaela Vanetti takes the train to and from Syracuse every break. She described the current station using the word, "hood."
"It's not that bad, but a new one would be a positive thing," she said.
Hannah Bushui, a Niagara University student riding the train from Albany to Niagara Falls, said, "It's a really small, sketchy area. It's hard to get to and is out of the way."
"It was definitely needed, and it is going to be in a better location than the current one," she said.
Groundbreaking for the $27.4-million development began June 9, 2014. $16 million of this funding has been contributed by the federal government.
Thomas DeSantis, city project manager for Niagara Falls, said the project is on schedule and on budget.
"This will give the city a new mobile transportation center providing inter-city rail between New York City and Toronto," he said. "Approximately 50,000 people a year will be arriving at the north end of Main Street and be walking distance away from many things to do in Niagara Falls."
Not only will the new Transportation Center accommodate Amtrak, local buses, taxis and shuttles, there also will be an Underground Railroad Museum, U.S. Department of Homeland Security border inspection facilities, retail shops and an educational center in the new building. Potentially, 200 jobs could be created from this project, and that is certainly good news for the Cataract City.
Edited by: Kim E. Burnham-Fechner
Web Design by: Stephanie Rosso