Transportation planners must be forward-thinking
In recent years – right up to the governor’s State of the State address – a number of major transportation investments have been proposed for Western New York. Among them, replacement of Buffalo’s Amtrak station and strategic extensions of Metro Rail. These projects will have a significant impact on our health, environment, economy and lifestyle for years to come. Given their longevity and cost, we must be as forward-thinking as possible when making decisions about them.
As officials consider where to locate the new Amtrak station, they should consider the long-term implications carefully. For instance, the question of whether the Central Terminal is “too far from downtown.” If our ultimate goal is to extend the existing Metro Rail line from Canalside to the airport, that line would quickly connect the Central Terminal to downtown, eliminating the distance issue. The terminal has room to accommodate high-speed rail – and link the airport line with the Belt Line, where the city’s redevelopment efforts are now focused, should the future bring commuter service back to that.
In the interest of conserving resources and improving quality of life, we have already begun a shift toward living in more walkable, bikeable, transit-oriented communities. Our population is poised to grow as climate refugees repopulate Great Lakes cities. While aware that we cannot build everything at once, we should still have an ambitious long-term master plan that capitalizes on our amazing potential. A plan we can work toward incrementally, our short-term decisions maximizing our future options.
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