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Groundbreaking on new Falls train station may happen next month

Decades-old plans for a new train station in the city appear to be finally coming to fruition.

The Niagara Falls City Council tonight awarded a $22.7 million contract for the construction of a new train station in the city's North End. Lawmakers awarded the contract to Scrufari Construction, which came in with the lowest of two bids for the work. LPCiminelli was the other firm to place a bid.

Mayor Paul A. Dyster said the city still has to speak with Scrufari representatives, but a groundbreaking is likely to occur on the project sometime next month. "I'm extremely gratified that we were able to pass a series of measures tonight that make the train station project a reality," Dyster said after the Council meeting.

The project site is just north of Ontario Street, between Main and Whirlpool streets, near the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge. This is the third and final phase of the project, which will cost an estimated $41 million in total. The first involved the stabilization of the former Customs House, which will house part of the station and an Underground Railroad museum. The second phase included upgrades to the railroad bridge over Main Street. Roughly 87 percent of the project's costs are being picked up by the federal and state governments.

The Council tonight also approved a $3.1 million contract for construction management services for this phase to its consultant, Wendel Companies. Lawmakers also formally accepted an additional $1.4 million in state funding for the project.

Councilman Glenn A. Choolokian voted against the latter of the two measures, saying the project wiil be "another burden on the taxpayers." He was the only lawmaker to cast a vote in opposition to any of the three measures. Choolokian did vote in favor of awarding the contract to Scrufari, saying he was happy a local firm was getting the work.

In order to obtain the additional state funding, the city had to agree to allocate several hundred thousand dollars more, Dyster said.

Council Chairman Charles A. Walker said he thought it is important for a tourist town to have a train station closer to where tourists want to be, and not "in the middle of nowhere" where the current station sits. "To grow and build a city, you have to invest in that city," Walker said.

Scrufari's base bid was $23.7 million, while LPCiminelli's was $24.3 million. The city's engineering consultants recommended the city remove some of the project alternates, which is why the contract value dropped below the base bid.

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City Council | city government | tourism
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Tales of a world-famous natural wonder and the city that surrounds it. The Brink is home for all you need to know about Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Aaron Besecker

Aaron Besecker

Aaron Besecker joined The Buffalo News in 2007, where he has covered communities in Western New York as a beat reporter, multimedia journalist and assistant online editor. A Buffalo native, he began his career in journalism at the Niagara Gazette.

@The_Brink_Blog | abesecker@buffnews.com

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