Niagara Gazette

Local News

October 28, 2010

City receives final federal funding for new train station and transportation hub

NIAGARA FALLS — It was a call from Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, followed by a Rochester dinner in April with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood that left Mayor Paul Dyster convinced the dream of a international railway station and intermodal transportation center in the Falls was about to become a reality.

“It gave me confidence we would get the (federal) money we would need to do this,” Dyster said.

On Thursday, Slaughter came to town and delivered $16.5 million in federal grant funding to complete revitalization of the Niagara Falls Customhouse and convert it into the Niagara Falls International Railway Station.

Slaughter called the cash award, “A wonderful day for us.”

The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER II grant program which was part of the federal stimulus bill.

“Just two months ago we were here breaking ground on Phase I construction of the Niagara Falls Intermodal Transportation Center,” Slaughter said. “Now two months later I’m proud to be back to celebrate the award of $16.5 million in federal funding to complete final construction.

Dyster said the city went out on a limb by beginning work on the train station project with only funding for the first two phases of construction work in place. The latest grant means the project is now fully funded.

“This is a milestone,” Dyster said. “This is not just a train station, but a facility that will be important in New York’s construction of a high speed rail system.”

As part of that larger goal, Slaughter also announced on Thursday that $28.46 million in federal grants have been awarded to New York for track improvements projects in Syracuse, signal improvements on the Hudson line, and bridge improvements in Albany. All those projects are designed to provide the necessary infrastructure for high-speed rail travel.

“A real functioning rail system is a critical part of our homeland security,” Slaughter said. “We’ve neglected (railroads) for too long.”

When Slaughter and Dyster dined with LaHood in the spring, the secretary of transportation pledged the Obama Administration will be dedicated to high-speed rail projects. Slaughter said she vowed to make sure New York received its fair share of that federal funding.

‘This will be the intermodal gateway into Canada,” Slaughter said, while noting Canadian plans to expand high speed rail from the Falls to Toronto and Montreal.

The congresswoman also predicted the new facility will have a positive impact on Main Street Development.

Dyster agreed.

“The Niagara Falls Rail Station and Inter-modal Transportation Center is elemental to the redevelopment of Niagara Falls,”  Dyster said. “Congresswoman Slaughter has understood this from the start and she has given us her time and support in seeking funding to make the project a reality.”

The project is slated for  final completion in 2011. It will house an Amtrak station, a border inspection facility and the Underground Railroad Interpretive Center which will feature historic exhibits detailing the Niagara Region’s role in the history of the Underground Railroad.

The facility will be built around the historic Niagara Falls Customhouse, which was built in 1863 and operated by the federal government from 1867 into the 1980s.

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