The Canalside District in downtown Buffalo is about to get a new front door.
Plans are being unveiled for a revamped Erie Canal Harbor Station for Metro Rail service, designed to blend with new buildings and plazas now taking shape on the waterfront.
The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is using about $136,000 of its funds to spruce up the inbound and outbound stations that serve an area with an increasing number of visitors – many of them arriving by rail.
“We are going to remodel the Erie Canal Harbor Metro Stations so they will have a new, fresh appearance to complement the development that is taking place at Canalside,” said NFTA Executive Director Kimberley A. Minkel.
“Many people are using Metro Rail to attend inner harbor functions, some for the first time, so we want to provide a station that blends in with the new landscape.”
The Erie Canal Harbor Station will remain operating while undergoing its face-lift, NFTA spokesman C. Douglas Hartmayer said.
The existing arch over the Metro Rail tracks outside the former Donovan State Office Building will be demolished, as will some canopies.
A new, streamlined appearance will succeed the current rusting structure, complete with flags on poles that were never used. NFTA officials are especially excited about replacing the rather gaudy “stars” design on current canopies with reproductions of paintings that depict Buffalo Harbor scenes from the 19th century.
“We want it to be as authentic as possible,” Hartmayer said.
Hartmayer said existing platforms at the harbor will remain. Work will start in about two weeks, with completion set for mid-November, he said, adding that no interruptions in Metro Rail service are expected.
The work is part of a larger effort by Metro Rail to spruce up an almost three-decade-old system. Changes are expected beginning this fall at the Allen/Medical Campus Station when construction starts on the new University at Buffalo Medical School nearby. More work is planned to rebuild old escalators in underground stations, and a reconfigured Fountain Plaza Station will open next year as part of the project to reintroduce traffic to parts of Main Street downtown.