By Matt Ricchiazzi
Congressman Brian Higgins is urging the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to spend $43 million to redevelop the DL&W Terminal into a light rail station. That facility would only service the six-mile line that runs along Main Street from the Buffalo River to South Campus, and would not be capable of servicing Amtrak.
Largely driven by federal transportation grants that could fund up to 80% of the project’s cost, the project is not sound urban design nor is it a worthy economic development expenditure.
Congressman Higgins wants to waste taxpayer dollars to redevelop a building that the private sector would be eager to adaptively reuse – and would be willing to do so without this massive level of public subsidy.
Instead we should improve public access to the riverfront, repurpose underutilized train yards, and restore a historic street grid that will open up new development opportunities adjacent to the river’s edge.
The fiscal economics of the city demand that we put every parcel we can back on the tax rolls. The neighborhood is prime real estate that could be catalytically served by high quality urban design. Realigning the light rapid rail off of the riverfront and along South Park Avenue will free up this structure for private investment.