Congressman Brian Higgins

Representing the 26th District of NEW YORK

Higgins Says New Train Station Estimates Are Way Off-Track

Mar 30, 2017
Press Release
Congressman Says Fair Comparison Makes the Central Terminal the Most Affordable Option

After eliminating the gratuitous padding inserted into the cost estimates for the Central Terminal and factoring in its eligibility for Historic Tax Credits, which are not available for a Canalside station, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) says putting the new station at the Central Terminal would actually be cheaper than a station at Canalside.

Following two requests, Higgins, a member of the Train Station Selection Committee, received a more detailed breakdown of the cost estimates for the different train station options.  After a review of that data, Higgins is sending a detailed memo to fellow committee members outlining why Buffalo’s Central Terminal is not only the best choice for Buffalo but the most cost-effective. 

Higgins writes, “To succeed, Buffalo needs to build on its strengths, including its tremendous architectural heritage, and needs to make sure that no neighborhood is left behind in its resurgence.  This is a decision that requires vision – a vision for what Buffalo was and what Buffalo can be.”

Assemblyman Sean Ryan said "I thank Congressman Higgins for carefully studying the cost breakdown, and revealing an accurate analysis. I and many others have been skeptical of the numbers put out by the consultants, and now our suspicions have been confirmed. The fact that the consultants did not factor in historic tax credits is puzzling. Additonally, the consultants have not factored in the significant amount of money that has been spent on consulting fees which have created a planning blueprint for Canalside. The master plan for Canalside does not involve a train station. Locating a train station at Canalside and throwing away these planning documents would be a waste of time and resources. Bringing the Central Terminal back to life will help to spark investment on Buffalo's East Side. A renovated Central Terminal will be a catalyst for economic growth, just as the Richardson Olmsted Complex has been for Buffalo's West Side. Looking at all the facts, we can see that the Central Terminal is the best choice for a new train station in the City of Buffalo."

For a fair comparison Congressman Higgins’ analysis looks only at the cost for full-capacity train station build-outs at each location.  It also factors in state and federal Historic Tax Credits available only to the Central Terminal.  Below is a comparison:

Train Station Location

Consultant’s Report

Higgins’ Analysis

Canalside Option 2: “Modified Tielman” Plan

$18,522,533

$18,522,533

Canalside Option 3: “In the Tunnel” Plan

$19,708,983

$19,708,983

Central Terminal Option 1

$37,505,808

$17,700,000

 

 

Also noted are several factors in the report which skew numbers in favor of Canalside:

  • Report estimates excessive costs for parking at Central Terminal - over $11,000 per spot to create 50 parking spaces.  Total cost of $553,250.
  • Report estimates the cost of moving a water main at Canalside to be only $70,000 when the expense of moving this same line several years ago cost ECHDC more than $2 million. 
  • Report is blind to the fact that if the new station is located at Canalside, the Depew Amtrak station will have to remain, and with that have substantial associated capital and maintenance costs.
  • Report assumes the Lake Shore Limited train (route to Chicago/Boston) would back up for 1.2 miles at Canalside, creating significant delays for passengers and operational constraints that would likely not be acceptable to Amtrak. 

 

Congressman Higgins goes on to say in the memo, “While I have argued here that Central Terminal is actually preferable from an affordability standpoint to the Canalside options, I have not wavered in my view that this important decision should not be reduced to a matter of mere dollars-and-cents.  The Central Terminal alternative meets those two objectives in a way that Canalside never can…”

The final Train Station Selection Committee meeting is scheduled for 9:00AM on Thursday, April 20 at the offices of Empire State Development.