NFTA Holds Public Meeting on Possible Metro Rail Expansion

"You're still looking at 10 years before we're actually riding a train."

Brendan Keany
September 24, 2019 - 6:50 pm
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AMHERST (WBEN) - The NFTA held another public meeting at Sweet Home Middle School on Tuesday evening, as the organization continues to investigate the reality of an expanded Metro Rail line that would connect the UB South Campus to UB North.

"We're in the environmental process; we're doing an environmental impact statement, so before we finish the drafted environmental impact statement, we're having an open house here tonight to gather feedback," said Tom George, director of public transit for the NFTA. "We continue to develop the design of the project, address issues that come up as we go and come up with mitigating actions for those, whether they're traffic, alignment or noise. As we do that, we're bringing it back to the public to get their feedback on it."

Listen to George's full comments below:

Here are the renderings of some of the station design concepts:

At Tuesday's meeting, there were several people who weren't shy about voicing their displeasure on what this could mean for the neighborhood. Steve, who didn't want to reveal his last name, is one of those concerned homeowners.

"I have a lot of concerns; the most important one is that we have a neighborhood that's been here for a long time - we even still have some of our original owners," began Steve. "We've been out here because this is our suburban area; this is the community where we decided that this is the place that we wanted to live, and one of the reasons why is because it is the suburbs - this is an entity that is not the urban environment - and here they have the Lite Rail transit that they feel they need to extend out here for whatever reason...we are out here because we don't have a purpose for it."

Listen to Steve's full comments below:

However, there are plenty of others such as the President of Citizens for Regional Transit Doug Funke, who do see the purpose for it.

"We're excited about it - I mean this has been incoming for many, many years, and it's finally starting to happen," said Funke, who believes this project should simply be the beginning of a much larger network of Lite Rail expansion. "...by and large, it's seen as a positive step forward, I think. I know that the NFTA did a survey, and there was a majority of Amherst residents who support this, and of course the university supports it, and they're a big player in this too."

Listen to Funke's full comments below:

George noted that the timeline for this project remains the same as it's been, and the next phase delves into preliminary design work. From there, if the NFTA feels the community is behind the project, they will move to secure federal funding, and that process would occur over a two-year period.

"If federal funding were to occur in a two-year period, we then bring design," said George. "You're still looking at 10 years before we're actually riding a train through this area, so it's a 10-year process that we're in."

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