Rochester’s new train station is turning heads. The brick and glass building replaces a smaller and temporary building local patrons were forced to use for over three decades.
And it marks the end of a three-year construction project which cost roughly $30 million. The station opened on Friday with a ribbon-cutting from Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle and Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren.
“It’s about time frankly. And we’ve been pretty patient about this,” said Slaughter. She's been working on the new station for over seven years, securing the first million dollars back in 2010 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act under President Barack Obama.
Among many changes, the Rochester Station is fully compliant with the American with Disabilities Act, giving locals the first compliant station in Rochester history. Slaughter said she depended on the input of students from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf when pursuing the project.
“The students at NTID told us that they would have to sit here in the former waiting room and when crowds of people got up to go somewhere they just got up to go with them having absolutely no idea if that was their train or not….that is going to be no more,” she said.
Before this station's construction, passengers relied on a small building that was meant to be temporary after the more glamorous Bragdon Station was demolished. Renowned architect Claude Bragdon designed that station in the early 1900s and it stood for half a century. However, increased aviation travel and a shift in urban space use led city planners to demolish the building and create a parking lot.
So what’s different? Besides curb appeal, now there are two passenger tracks, meaning trains traveling in opposite directions can both stop at the station. This will allow freight trains to completely bypass the station and should also keep them from inhibiting passenger trains. '
Bright electronic signs show when trains arrive and depart. The windows facing the tracks are large, giving those in the concourse an actual view of incoming trains. Finally, there is an underground tunnel passengers take to the platform. Between different tracks, the tunnel and an expanded platform, passengers will have more space to disembark and it should run more efficiently, said Slaughter.
Mayor Lovely Warren said she sees the new station as reflective of Rochester’s progress.
“The new Rochester train station is another testament of the transformation underway here in the great Flour City," she said.
Marcie Knight was one of the first passengers to use the station Friday. She was waiting for her train back to Albany after spending a week in Rochester for a conference. She said she’s impressed by how easy it is to navigate.
“Everything visual you can see. You can see the ticket line where the escalator is, the train. Everything is right eye level. You can find everything and it doesn’t seem hard to find your way around.”