Residents Get An Update A New Rail Terminal In Niagara Falls

February 16, 2011 Updated Feb 16, 2011 at 12:30 AM EDT

By Lou Chilelli

February 16, 2011 Updated Feb 16, 2011 at 12:30 AM EDT

It's seen as a way to reduce the country's dependency on foreign oil. The move to build a high speed rail system in the U.S. could also mean thousands of construction jobs. Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster led a forum Tuesday night designed to update area residents on the progress to improve rail transportation in the city. The Falls has now secured all the funds that it needs to fully complete a new rail terminal near the Whirlpool Bridge in the northwest section of the city.

"We thought it was important to talk to people from throughout the region. About what the significance of this project is for rail in the region...across New York the national level and even for cooperation on future rail with the country of Canada," Dyster said. The entire project to build a new terminal and improve the rail approaches and nearby bridges will cost 44 million dollars.

"The first phase involves the reconstruction and retro fitting the Civil War era Customs Building. We are going to have an Underground Railroad interpretative center on the first floor. On the second floor, it's going to be used as part of the security process," the mayor explained.

Work to make the old Customs House part of a new terminal is underway. Officials believe that even before high speed rail arrives...a new terminal will improve tourism. "We think that even before high speed rail becomes a reality in other parts of the system...that constructing the new station could double ridership on the line between New York City and Toronto in the first year or two. I sometimes think that might be a conservative projection," Dyster said.

With funding for the Niagara Falls project secured...officials are optimistic that the federal government's plans to improve infrastructure will mean that high speed rail development will continue to receive funding.