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Higgins: Amtrak station cost estimates are wrong

Reduces Central Terminal estimate by $20 mil.
Posted at 8:05 AM, Mar 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-30 18:27:27-04

A Western New York Congressman says recently released cost estimates for a proposed Amtrak Station in Buffalo are very inaccurate, and he's releasing new numbers that show the Central Terminal could be a competitive option when compared to Canalside.

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Niagara Falls, says consultants inserted "gratuitous padding" into the Central Terminal estimates, and failed to factor in the building's eligibility for Historic Tax Credit.

He is estimating the Central Terminal train station would cost $20 million dollars less than the consultants' estimate.

Original numbers estimated building a train station at Canalside would cost between $18.5 and $19.7 million, and using the Central Terminal for the station would cost $37.5 million.

In a press release, Higgins said he recalculated numbers using only the cost for building full capacity train station build-outs at each location. He also applied the Historic Tax Credit. Higgins' new estimation puts the cost of building a train station at the Central Terminal at about $17.7 million, nearly a million dollars less than the most affordable Canalside option.

Higgins also said the original report skewed numbers in favor of Canalside in the following ways:

  • 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. 

Higgins is a member of the Train Station Selection Committee. He believes the Central Terminal is the best location for the new train station.

“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," Higgins wrote. "This is a decision that requires vision – a vision for what Buffalo was and what Buffalo can be.”