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Newsmaker of the month: Cooling our jets regarding Dunkirk train stop

There seems to be an engine of support for the concept of bringing an Amtrak stop to the city of Dunkirk. During a pair of meetings in the last month, a revived proposal includes support from the State University of New York at Fredonia.

“One of the topics and issues that I’ve had so many people ask about, including President (Stephen) Kolison from SUNY Fredonia is, can we work on getting an Amtrak stop here,” said Vince DeJoy, the city’s planning and development director, before a recent Common Council meeting. “This is an opportune time, because there’s $1.2 trillion in the (federal) Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Amtrak is going to be receiving somewhere in the neighborhood of $66 billion to develop new stops, buy new train sets, and so forth.”

Train stops and stations always sound exciting. But that does not mean they are a magic bullet.

In 2016, a state-of-the-art $43 million investment in a new station opened in Niagara Falls. The response has been underwhelming to say the least.

According to a Buffalo News article from last spring, an average of 44 people were using the station to board the two departing and two arriving trains each day. That number was a reduction from a still lackluster 95 from before the pandemic.

City officials here need to take it slow. Even though ImmunityBio — which took on the Athenex facility in the town of Dunkirk — also backs the project, Niagara Falls numbers prove that even though community leaders believe there is a need, that is not always the case.

For now, Common Council has approved a $20,000 study to see how feasible a station in the city can be in the future. Let’s hope this initiative considers the major investment made in Niagara County. That is a miserable return.

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