Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Re: High-Speed Rail Corridor to Buffalo !

Bill Banas, director of the New Millennium Group of WNY, responded with thoughtful comments about the post entitled "High-Speed Rail Corridor to Buffalo !". He wrote:

Incredible, wonderful news, all of this... I'm starting to believe it will happen. This will be a fundamental shift in how people travel on this continent, and how capital and investment flow.

This could be something that sets Buffalo apart from other cities. Denver isn't getting it. Neither is Phoenix or Las Vegas. Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Orlando, and Miami have barely begun even thinking about the idea. It could be a game changer for Buffalo---but only if we are proactive enough to be one of the first to entirely embrace it.

First, Buffalo needs an intermodal transportation center (ITC). There have been plans for almost 15 years on the site of the Aud and the Donovan Building. Federal funding was allocated. It should have been built already, awaiting the high speed trains, but local leaders saw the future in more cars, more trucks, and more sprawl.

No matter---we can start again today an still be ahead of the pack. (In my opinion, the ITC should be downtown. When I get off of a train in the US, Canada, Europe or anywhere else in the world, I want to be in the city center.) The ITC should connect the high-speed inter city trains to our regional train system (including trains north to Niagara Falls and south to the ski areas).

Second, we need to build a new passenger train crossing over the Niagara River to Canada and on to Toronto.

Of course, a new passenger rail crossing to Canada and Toronto will have to be put in a location that already has access to rail infrastructure and rights-of-way. This is one of the reasons that many foresighted people in Buffalo have been fighting so hard for a better location for a new Peace Bridge.

The location of the existing Peace Bridge---it's lack of proximity to rail infrastructure and the lack of space in the vicinity---has stifled Buffalo's ability to take significant advantage of the massive amount of trade on our doorstep. Because of this, the vast majority of the trucks and people pass right on through without stopping.

Transportation, first by canal and then especially by rail, was what built Buffalo. It is our natural advantage---a confluence of Buffalo's location, topography, and geography---but only if we seize the opportunity now.

Does Buffalo want to be a doormat or a destination? Our actions regarding high-speed rail (and the Peace Bridge) will be the answer.

Bill Banas
The New Millennium Group of WNY

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