The Niagara Frontier Transit Authority (NFTA) took two giant steps yesterday in its plans to make Buffalo a more transit-friendly city.
First, the NFTA announced that a proposal to expand light-rail service in Buffalo is getting a $778,000 boost from the federal government. NFTA said it will receive a grant of more than 3/4 of a million dollars from the Federal Transit Administration to study proposal to extend commuter service into the nearby community of Amherst, NY.
The NFTA and the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council will use the cash to do planning work geared toward attracting private sector development and to maximize economic development opportunities, according to the Buffalo News. The proposed rail extension is part of a larger plant to build more walkable communities and denser development. Partners in the effort include Erie County, the City of Buffalo, Amherst, Town of Tonawanda and the University at Buffalo.
Also yesterday, the NFTA said it was seeking bids for a redevelopment of the of the historic DL&W Terminal on the Buffalo River, behind the Key Bank Center. The NFTA plans to continue to use the first floor of the terminal as a repair center and staging area for its Metro Rail cars, but hopes to convert the rest of the facility into a destination that would connect the Canalside neighborhood with the city’s Cobblestone District.
The RFP says “respondents will set forth a comprehensive, compelling vision and plan to build out and manage mixed-use space using the second floor of the DL&W and possible future first-floor development/programming space that will maximize the economic vibrancy of the NFTA’s Metro Rail corridor and the Canalside and Cobblestone districts,” according Buffalo Business First.
News of the light-rail study and the DL&W redevelopment comes at a busy time for Buffalo rail. Just last week came news that Hohl Industrial Services Inc. and Scrufari Construction Co. won a $27.7 million design-and-build contract for an intermodal passenger transportation hub planned for downtown.