Another mild winter has not only kept snow off the ground in Buffalo, but has afforded pleasant weather for construction crews working in various sections of the city. One particular project that has gone into full build-out is the “Cars on Main” development that is preparing the 600 Block of Main Street for automobile traffic.
As detailed in this Buffalo Rising post, the 600 Block construction is well underway and should be completed within the calendar year. As that project is set to end, the 500 Block construction will be set to begin. Planted in the middle of the 500 Block designs are renderings for modern replacements for the current Metro Rail stations.
The post details that the new station will be a replacement for the Theatre/Fountain Plaza station which will replace the derelict green iron stations that currently dot the light rail line. The pair of stations will become one once the Cars Sharing project has been completed (thanks Andrew). That means that only one stop will have the shiny new structures by 2014.
Regardless, the replacement of the old stations will be a welcome change for the entire light rail system. Of course, the other stations (Lafayette etc.) will not switch over immediately. That isn’t an issue as the Cars Sharing project will not reach to the lower portions of Main for a few more years. However, the former Aud Station (now Erie Canal Harbor) and Special Events stations should be getting the same treatment.
As has been detailed by Andrew Kulyk and myself, the Aud Station is an aesthetic travesty and is nearly obsolete with the Special Events station more than capable of taking over full time. While the Special Events station represents its own level of neglected design, it is a vast improvement over the Aud Station.
What should occur is the inclusion of the same structures down at the end of the light rail at the current Special Events station. This way the Special Events station would get the full treatment it needs, especially with construction on HARBORcenter set to begin. As has been touched on previously, this station could become the Canalside station and fully replace the former Aud Block station as the final stop on the line.
A design group has already been contracted for the shelters on the 500 Block and they will be going in. Since traffic and the trains are separated along Seymour H Knox III Plaza already, why not just get the ball rolling now? The Special Events station can be upgraded and renamed and the Aud Station can be removed.
As for who should handle the removal of the Aud Block station, that is a bit trickier. The NFTA or City will likely foot the bill at the end of the day, but I could certainly see ECHDC having a vested interest in removing the big, red eyesore from the front door of Canalside’s largest private investment. Perhaps the City, NFTA and ECHDC could team up (think Outer Harbor) to pull out the old Aud Station while upgrading the Special Events station to take over full time.
The current timetable won’t have any sort of serious work for the Cars Sharing project near Canalside until late 2014 or even 2015 at this point. By mid-2014 One Canalside will be fully operational and HARBOcenter will already be operating portions of the project. The time is now to jump ahead of schedule and pull out the aged station at the former site of the Aud.
The City has taken great steps to improve their front door, as has ECHDC. Now is the time for the two to come together to make the front door at Canalside easier on the eyes.