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State Takes Rochester Rail Station Project From City

October 26th, 2012

New York Central Railroad Station c.1905-1914 [PHOTO: Detroit Publishing via Library of Congress]
First, a little bit of history. The building shown above was one of Rochester’s earliest rail stations. Make sure you click to see all the great detail in the photo. It was located on Central Avenue between St. Paul & Clinton near the site of the current Amtrak Station. This view is looking west from Clinton Avenue, sometime between 1905-1914. In 1914 this station was replaced by the great Bragdon station in 1914, which was demolished in 1965…

Rochester's NY Central (Bragdon) Station, 1914. [PHOTO: Albert R. Stone]
Fast forward to 2012. After scraping by for the past 40 years with our current “Amshack,” the City of Rochester has finally lined up some $22.5 Million to build a new Bragdon-like station currently being designed external link by Bergmann Associates external link, a local architecture and planning firm. $15 Million of that is coming from a USDOT grant which requires the project be ready for construction by the summer/fall of 2013.

Rochester's proposed new station design. [RENDERING: Bermann Associates, 2012]
This week I learned that NYSDOT wants to take the project over from the City – to expedite the project, and possibly control costs.

NYSDOT has sent out a “Request For Qualifications” (RFQ) for the architectural design of the new station. The RFQ lists as a contact Michael O’Neill (212-465-5307) from Parsons Brinckerhoff external link a NYC planning & engineering firm.

So what does this mean for Rochester and customers of Amtrak/Greyhound/Trailways? Not sure yet. But in my opinion, for the State to be hijacking this project from local control so suddenly makes me very nervous. The City and the people of Rochester have already put in A LOT of work on this project. Hopefully the state is respectful of that.

Stay tuned…

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This entry was posted on Friday, October 26th, 2012 at 12:29 am and is filed under Rochester History, Rochester Images, Rochester News, Train/Railroad Stuff, Transit + Infrastructure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

11 Responses to “State Takes Rochester Rail Station Project From City”

  1. Bob Miller says:

    I don’t know. The City’s history of getting things done is not encouraging, and there’s already plenty going on.

  2. Patrick Chefalo says:

    Well, the “new” design looks like a cardboard, architecture student’s model of the Bragdon structure. Can the State make it better?

  3. I hear what you guys are saying, believe me. But the likelihood that the state is coming in because they want to make the design “better” is slim. Another concern I have is this… that USDOT TIGER grant was awarded based on the work we’ve already done. If the state changes the scope in any way, for better or worse, we risk losing that $15 Million. I doubt NY will step up to replace those funds. NY has committed to $7 Million. Do you have any idea what a 7 million dollar facility would look like? Not pretty.

    But… I’ll try to remain positive until we know more.

  4. Joe says:

    Patrick is right, while it is an improvement on the Amshack it looks cheap. It looks like that all too overly used stucco over foam finish that lets you know the bare minimum was spent and the aesthetics match that of your typical box store in Henrietta. Would it kill them to do a brick veneer with stone block corners like the original? Do architects even take pride in their work anymore?

  5. Let’s not be TOO hard on the architects. I’m sure they’re limited in what they can design simply what the customer is willing to pay to build. It seems to me the main reason old buildings were built with such “style” was because these modern, cheap building techniques weren’t around. You couldn’t do concrete over foam when Bragdon was built.

  6. CM says:

    NYSDOT will most likely lower the cost and saddle us with another inadequate and uninspiring Amshak. This is where we need Louise and Chuck and our State delegation.

  7. Jim Fraser says:

    Mike, have you contacted Louise Slaughter’s office about this? They have been helpful to me in the past, and she’d be a natural and powerful ally if trouble is afoot.

  8. Jim Fraser says:

    Adding to the comments on the rendering for the proposed new facility – I believe the references to the earlier stations were requested by the study group and are intentional. That said, I don’t think any of the facility’s boosters are entirely satisfied with the initial draft. Personally, I think the tower – clearly borrowed from the original station – does not relate well to the rest.

    But I also got the impression at the public presentation last year that the plan called for a phased implementation, pegged to actual rail usage, which is expected to ramp in the coming years. It’s a great strategy for winning the support of a skeptical public for one, but also a practical one that allows for a ‘wait and see’ period before spending on capacity we don’t yet need.

    Perhaps during the expansion phases, the sophistication of the architecture can be improved as well. Looks like there are missing pieces, like it ends in places where it shouldn’t, no?

  9. @Jim, we (meaning Reconnect Rochester) have a meeting scheduled with Slaughter. We are also reaching out to Maggie Brooks and NYSDOT. Reconnect Rochester will be sharing our official position on this in the coming weeks. And we may be asking you all to join us in writing and calling our state representatives.

    With regard to the renderings of the proposed station, we were told to look at these images as rough computer drafts of the basic structure & proportions of the building, not as fully fleshed out detailed drawings of all the architectural details, textures, materials, etc. Having said that, if held up to the original Bragdon station, this will of course always feel like a poor imitation – in my opinion. But a Bragdon do-over is what the public overwhelmingly asked for during the public input period.

    And that tower thing on the left is actually an elevator shaft. Believe me, I’ve already given them my thoughts on that nonsense. I suggested giving the elevator shaft a glass enclosure which would draw less attention away from the main architectural focus of the Bragdon arches. But regardless, this entire design may be out the window now.

  10. Bob Williams says:

    As Mr. Subway said, I’d really urge people not to read too much into that specific rendering. There were additional architectural and site plan advisory boards convened to address aesthetic and proportion, but no updated renderings have yet been released to the public.

  11. DCH says:

    Must also comment that this new station looks like a disaster of modern architecture. I’d rather have the present station and 22.5 million.


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