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Originally Published : The Buffalo News

By : Jonathan D. Epstein | November 17, 2021

Say goodbye to the cement ramp, red-and-black canopy and rusty red railings of the 1980s-era Erie Canal Harbor Metro Rail station.

Say hello to a new stone-and-glass station that will take its place at the renamed Canalside stop.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is planning to demolish the existing station, replacing it with a reconstructed modern look, similar to what has already been done at Fountain Plaza.

Both remakes are part of the larger revamp of the tracks, trackbed and infrastructure of Metro Rail along Main Street in conjunction with the restoration of car traffic alongside the trains.

“We’re trying to come in right after they’re done, for a seamless process,” said Thomas George, NFTA’s director of public transit.

The design tries to address past concerns about transparency, light, security and wind protection, while also giving the station a unique look appropriate to its location. So the new $3.5 million station, which will serve both outbound and inbound traffic, will feature stone columns – harkening to the nearby Cobblestone District – and glass enclosures in between.

“We don’t want to have every one of our stations be the same,” George said. “If you look at a lot of transit systems, they try to create a different environment at each station … so you have some semblance of where you’re at.”

The project was put out for bid on Nov. 16, and officials hope to select a contractor soon and bring it to the agency’s board for final approval, George said. The funds come from the state’s five-year $100 million allocation for Metro Rail.

He said he anticipates construction within the next year, “but a lot of it depends on the availability of product.”

The Church Street station is also in line for a redesign, followed by Lafayette and Seneca.

NFTA is also designing its next phase of track work on the stretch of Metro Rail from Mohawk to Church streets. George said the agency expects to put it out for bid next summer or fall, with construction starting in 2023 – hopefully in conjunction with the city completing the same section for Cars Sharing Main Street, if it can obtain federal funding.