Metro Rail Expansion gains support, detractors

Northward expansion could take a decade to complete

Mike Baggerman
December 06, 2018 - 8:45 pm

Metro Rail Expansion meeting at Sweet Home Middle School. December 6, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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AMHERST, N.Y. (WBEN) - Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and WSP Consulting officials were on hand at Thursday night's public meeting on the metro rail expansion at Sweet Home Middle School to showcase the future of Buffalo's metro rail.

The expansion of the light rail system will go from the City of Buffalo into the Towns of Amherst and Tonawanda, through the University at Buffalo's North Campus. Specifically, it would begin at University Station, continue underground along Bailey Avenue, to a portal on Eggert Road, then reach the surface of Niagara Falls Boulevard to Maple Road, to Sweet Home Road, onto the UB North Campus, then along Audobon Parkway where it would end close to I-990.

Two years ago, NFTA examined alternative options to extend the rail north.

"This project is taking the results of that study and look at it from an environmental perspective," Scot Sibert, Project Manager at WSP, told WBEN. "What are the impacts the light rail can have on the corridor."

Sibert said they're starting to learn what the impacts are on the possible light rail expansion. He said much the discussion is about the traffic that would be impacted.

"Vibration and noise are other components that we believe are going to be something we need to evaluate," Sibert added. "UB has some sensitive equipment on campus so we'll make sure the system doesn't interfere with the sensitive equipment as they do their research."

Sibert said he expects the development of the metro rail to be beneficial to development in addition to increased usage.

"It more than pays for itself," NFTA Executive Director Kim Minkel told WBEN about the development impact. "In terms of ridership and what it does for accessibility and travel options, it would more than double our current ridership...Next to walking, it is the cleanest and greenest form of transportation. It's electric. Zero emissions. As we hear more and more about global warming, it's an important consideration for the region and the community."

Minkel said there's been upgrades to the current light rail such as the replacement of the trains themselves and improvements to various stations.

Residents at the meeting shared thoughts on it. Many praised what they believe could be a greater convenience, a decrease in incidents along Niagara Falls Boulevard, and increased access. However, some residents, particularly residents who live on Niagara Falls Boulevard, argue that the metro rail expansion will disturb their way of life and lower the property values on their homes.

IN DEPTH

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