Niagara Gazette — Construction on the long-discussed railway station in the city's North End is now under way.
Government officials, citizens, builders and engineers from the United States and Canada gathered in the future parking lot for the Niagara Falls Intermodal Transportation Center Monday morning to hold a ceremonial groundbreaking for the project, which has been in the works for more than 15 years and has been discussed for even longer.
Mayor Paul Dyster, who has championed the project since stepping into office in 2008, was visibly emotional as he delivered a 15-minute speech to mark the beginning of the final phase of the $40 million project.
Dyster outlined the history of passenger rail in Niagara Falls, recounting the importance it had in transportation throughout the nation before listing off a number of opportunities he sees the new station presenting for future travelers.
"Just a few short years ago it seemed like these wonderful 'some days' were just fantasy," Dyster said in reference to the tourism opportunities the new station will offer.
The station project is funded to the tune of about 90 percent state and federal money, with the city paying for its part with casino revenues.
Dyster pointed to some key officials — particularly Tom DeSantis, the city's senior planner, and long-time councilman, Chairman Charles Walker — who he said made the project possible through their vision and persistence.
"Through the unrelenting efforts of some dedicated and determined people, we are here to break ground today," Dyster said.
Scrufari Construction, the Niagara Falls company that won the contract for the construction phase of the project with a low bid of $22.7 million, began preliminary site work several weeks ago. The station is expected to open in early 2016.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who was instrumental in securing a $16.5 million federal transportation grant for the construction of the transportation center, was on hand for the event.