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New intermodal transportation hub for downtown Buffalo

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Mon, Nov 9th 2020 10:10 am

New Exchange Street station twice the size of previous rail station; provides interconnected gateway to downtown Buffalo

Design-build project continues state's commitment to growing Buffalo's economy

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced major construction has been completed on the new, state-of the-art transportation hub in downtown Buffalo.

A press release said, “The Exchange Street Station, which was constructed on time and on budget, is twice the size of the city's previous rail station and provides travelers with a convenient and intermodal gateway to Buffalo's bustling downtown with easy connections to local bus and light rail service. The new station will promote economic activity and tourism for the entire Western New York region and further Buffalo's continued resurgence by making it easier to visit the area's many attractions.”

The governor said, "Access to multiple forms of transportation is essential to growing any local economy. For far too long, the Queen City has been without a welcoming rail station that's commensurate with the growth Western New York has experienced in recent years. Thanks to the hard work of so many people, Buffalo now has the modern transportation hub it deserves – and with the completion of this project we are sending a message that we can still build and get things done even during COVID."

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said, As a native Western New Yorker, I saw firsthand the renaissance of the region with transformative community and waterfront developments. This new station is a shining beacon of hope for the future as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. It's a symbol of Buffalo's strength and resiliency, enhancing transportation and connectivity in the area. Downtown Buffalo has become a destination, and this station extends a vital corridor to the waterfront and continues our efforts to build back better our economy, increase tourism and enhance quality of life."

Located near such popular destinations such as Canalside and KeyBank Center, the new station was constructed on the same grounds as the previous, 66-year-old Amtrak Station, but was elevated and moved closer to the street to improve access and visibility. The structure was also designed to accommodate the future expansion of intercity bus service and additional train routes, creating a truly intermodal transit center for downtown Buffalo.

The new station was woven into Buffalo's urban fabric, with improved connectivity to the city's light rail system – via a new covered pedestrian plaza – and increased accommodation for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists. With its larger size and modern design, it offers additional seating, more parking, a designated drop-off and pickup area, and a redesigned platform to make it easier and safer for passengers to board and depart trains.

The new station has a capacity of more than 40 seats and the image of a Buffalo is featured at the center of its Terrazzo floor. The previous station's low-level platform was replaced by a new, longer, train-level platform for easier boarding. It also features new lighting and a canopy.

A Taste NY kiosk will serve local food and beverages, encouraging visitors and New Yorkers alike to experience the quality and diversity of New York-made products while supporting local agricultural and food businesses. The kiosk was open on October weekdays, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., and has added evening hours in November, from 6-9 p.m. Offerings include snacks, fruit, hot and cold beverages, pastries and sandwiches New York vendors, including coffee from McCullagh Coffee Roasters (Buffalo) and milk chocolate candy from Kelly's Country Store (Grand Island). The current product list is available here. Additional products will be added to the menu in the coming months.

Energy-efficient and environmentally friendly materials were used in the new station's construction and the facility is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The New York State Department of Transportation assumed control of the project to replace the train station after the City of Buffalo conducted a location study that resulted in the decision to use the existing station's footprint for the new and improved facility. The state awarded a $27.7 million design-build contract for the construction of the new station in December of 2018 and work began shortly thereafter. The old station was demolished and a temporary station was erected to service passengers during the construction process.

The design-build project delivery method – where both the engineering design and the construction of a project are contracted by a single entity known as the design-builder – was employed to save time and reduce costs.

State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "Gov. Cuomo understands that a modern transportation network is the linchpin of a vibrant and growing economy. This new, world-class Buffalo Station is part of New York state's historic commitment to not only restore our transportation infrastructure, but build it back better and more resilient for the benefit of this generation and generations to come. The station exemplifies the Department of Transportation's continued capability to design and build world-class transportation facilities across New York state."

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "The new Exchange Street Station will be a tremendous benefit to Buffalo's community and economy, giving both residents and travelers an increased opportunity to connect with all that is great about New York state, including our top-notch New York-grown and produced foods and beverages. Whether inside the station at our Taste NY kiosk, or across the whole Western New York region, our homegrown products will be highlighted, boosting our New York food and farm businesses and local economies."

Amtrak President and CEO Bill Flynn said, "We are delighted to open this new Buffalo Exchange Street Station, which will benefit Western New York residents and visitors when traveling in and out of the state. We want to thank Gov. Cuomo, Mayor Brown and NYSDOT for their partnership and collaboration in seeing this state-of-the-art station open."

Built in 1952, the original Buffalo Station was an important stop along the Niagara Branch of the Empire Corridor, linking Buffalo, Niagara and Toronto. Approximately 38,000 passengers use the station annually.

"For years, Buffalo's Exchange Street Amtrak Station sat neglected and often unusable, yet full of potential in the heart of our evolving downtown corridor. That changes today," said New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. "Now, we can proudly welcome visitors to a state-of-the-art station that prioritizes ridership and intermodal transportation. This marks a strong investment from New York state yet again, and demonstrates that great community-minded partnerships will continue to transform the Queen City."

Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, "Buffalo's new Intermodal Transportation Hub is a much-needed upgrade to the old Amtrak Station that stood on Exchange Street for nearly 70-years. The long-awaited, $29.8 million, state-of-the-art transportation center by NYS DOT will help welcome visitors to our wonderful city. Thanks to Gov. Cuomo for his commitment to continued support of our great city."

"I'm very excited to see the completion of Buffalo's much-needed new train station," Assemblyman Sean Ryan said. "This new station will give travelers a convenient and comfortable location to connect with our local bus and rail services, and ensure visitors have a positive first impression of Western New York. Thank you to Gov. Cuomo and the NYSDOT for their leadership and efficient work on this project."

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, "This project represents a commitment to providing residents from throughout our region with another option to access all that is happening in downtown Buffalo. It will give a boost to the continued economic development happening in the city's central business district and shows residents of Erie County and further visitors to Western New York that Gov. Cuomo and the state of New York remain focused on helping our economy grow, even during these uncertain times as we continue to address the global pandemic."

Mayor Byron Brown said, "The completion of the new Exchange Street Station is a major step forward as we continue to modernize and enhance public accessibility and passenger experience in downtown Buffalo. After accepting Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $1 million, six-month challenge in 2016 to guide the process and ultimately recommend the Exchange Street site as the ideal location for a new and modern train station, we now celebrate its completion. With substantial input from our community, the new Exchange Street Station serves as a great interconnected gateway into downtown Buffalo, and will make travel easier for residents and visitors alike, while also spurring economic activity and tourism. I thank Gov. Cuomo and the Department of Transportation for their continued commitment and investment in Buffalo's future."

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