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United States : Customs House project moves ahead.

Senior City Planner Thomas J. DeSantis told the City Council on Monday that officials are making very good progress on all fronts in the effort to transform the historic old Customs House on Whirlpool Street into a modern passenger railroad station and that symbolic groundbreaking ceremonies may take place as soon as next month.

DeSantis said discussions with Amtrak, CSX railroad, the departments of Transportation and others involved in the project have reached the point where groundbreaking for renovation of the Customs House and for a new bridge across the lower Niagara River gorge near the foot of Ontario Avenue could take place in August.

Amtrak is the national corporation that runs most passenger trains in the United States. CSX is the railroad company that owns the right of way and trackage on which the trains run, and the state and federal DOTs are responsible for approval and some of the funding for the project.

DeSantis said ownership title searches and appraisals remain to be completed. Preliminary applications and groundbreaking could be done in August, he said.

If all goes well, he said, the final design and acquisition of the property could be completed next spring, and the new Niagara Falls International Station and Intermodal Transportation Center could be completed in the winter of 2013.

The station is called intermodal because it is intended to serve intercity and local buses and taxis, airport shuttles, tour buses, bicyclists and other travelers as well as railroad passengers.

City Council members took two actions Monday to move the project along. They approved just over $2.1 million in contracts to renovate the Customs House that dates back to 1863, and they adopted an agreement in principle for Amtrak to use the station when it is ready.

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Date:Jul 28, 2010
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