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Neighbors in the Northtowns voice opinions on Metro Rail expansion with the NFTA

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Posted at 11:40 PM, Sep 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-25 01:15:29-04

AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — Neighbors in the Northtowns shared their thoughts with the NFTA on the proposed Metro Rail expansion project Tuesday night.

The project would add ten new stations expanding north from the light rail's current last stop at the University at Buffalo up to the I-990. As part of this expansion UB's two campuses would be linked by rail, currently students rely on a UB bus service. The seven mile stretch of new route would more than double the length of the already existing route.

Tim George, The Director of Public Transit, for the NFTA said the expansion would benefit the corridor in a variety of ways.

"You'll have the opportunity for more dense housing, you'll have the opportunity to revitalize retail and commercial opportunities throughout here," he said.

George said that while the project is less work intensive than when the NFTA introduced the existing 6.4 miles of light rail in the 1980s, this expansion project is the NFTA's most expensive undertaking.

"At this point in time it'd probably be the largest infrastructure investment in Western New York that we've seen," George said.

The NFTA isn't putting a price tag on the project yet, George said it's part of the environmental review process.

Some residents at the meeting did not think the expansion was practical. Joe Lane lives so close to the proposed Audubon Town Center stop that he could point to where his house is on the rendering. He thinks the expansion should stop at UB North Campus and that the rest of the route is "an extension to nowhere."

He'd rather see the time and money spent on expanding towards the airport. He's commuted to UB's South Campus for 30 years.

"I ride a bicycle in the summer and I drive in the winter, it's about a 12 minute drive," Lane said. "I'm not going to walk to a metro station wait 20 minutes for a train."

George said the NFTA hopes to complete the environmental review process by early-mid 2020, but riders will have to wait about 10 years before the project is complete.

If you have comments you want to submit to the NFTA you can email them at ralix@nfta.com or add them to the NFTA's interactive map.