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The Ellicott Street entrance to the Metro Transportation Center in downtown Buffalo will close to the traveling public next year as a result of an NFTA office expansion project set to begin in November 1989.

The project will provide 7,100 square feet of office space to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, which needs more room as a result of departmental reorganization, according to Walter D. Zmuda, general manager of engineering.

The effort, estimated to cost about $500,000, will transform the hallway leading into the bus terminal from Ellicott Street into office space.

"Right now, we have parts of different branches spread out all over different floors," Zmuda said. "That reduces control, communication and efficiency."

The project will preclude the authority from seeking more office space outside its seven-story building adjacent to the bus terminal. Zmuda said it might have cost the authority about $140,000 a year to rent other space downtown, resulting in the renovation paying for itself in about four years.

Zmuda said the biggest change to affect the public will be closure of the Ellicott Street entrance to all except NFTA employees and others with business in the "tower" portion of the complex. Some areas, like the traveler's aid office and information booth, also will be relocated, he said, and the bar now serving travelers also will be removed.

NFTA Executive Director Alfred E. Savage said the authority considered moving the bar to another location but indicated the low return on that investment dictated the end of the bus terminal watering hole.

"For the investment we would have to put into the bar and for the return it would give us, it just didn't make sense," Savage said.

Zmuda said he expects the authority to put the job out for bid sometime next month, with construction to begin in November. He said he expects the project to be completed in about six months.

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