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Higgins backs Metro Rail extending into DL&W station

Rep. Brian Higgins wants Metro Rail extended into the DL&W station, where it would pick up and drop off passengers adjacent to the Buffalo River.

This Buffalo River Plan, aka Alternative B, is one of two options the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is considering to expand the line along the Metro Rail’s southern end.

“Today’s decisions will determine tomorrow’s opportunities, and the Buffalo River option that fully integrates the DL&W Terminal into the future of Metro Rail gives this community the best opportunities moving forward,” Higgins said.

The NFTA is also considering an extension beyond its stop at First Niagara Center called “Alternative A,” which would provide a new station platform along South Park Avenue on the north side of the DL&W.

Higgins’ preference also calls for stair and elevator access to the terminal’s second level, where he hopes to see future development. There would be a pedestrian bridge that crosses South Park Avenue, public access to the Riverwalk and the option for future extensions.

Higgins said the Buffalo River Plan would best integrate transportation centers with mixed-use development, creating a multimodal transportation hub that allows for bus and automobile traffic along South Park, light rail within the DL&W Terminal, connections to bicycle and pedestrian trails along the water’s edge and use of boats and kayaks in the Buffalo River.

Projects adopting so-called Transit-Oriented Development and multimodal components are viewed favorably by federal and state transportation departments responsible for allocating transportation funding, Higgins said. He said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently reiterated his department’s interest in applications for multimodal public transit projects, and encouraged cities to submit commuter rail proposals.

“The DL&W Terminal sits at the epicenter of development, surrounded by the $200 million HarborCenter project, Canalside, a $40 million expansion at Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino and Buffalo River projects, including Riverworks and a new lodge under construction at Buffalo River Fest Park. With the available development parcels at Canalside, and the $11 million reconstruction of Ohio Street, growth and demand in the area is only expected to grow.”

Higgins in September urged Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. to invest about $10 million to get the DL&W’s top floor development-ready.