Notes by: Howard Decker

This is one of the architectural alternatives for Rochester's new intermodal rail station. It's a scaled down modern interpretation of the long demolished Union Station by Claude Bragdon.

Where: AMTRAK Station
When: 10:30am, 12.10.12
Who: Congresswoman Lousie Slaughter, NYSDOT Commissioner Joan McDonald, AMTRAK representative Bill Hollister, Mayor Richards, Councilman Miller


Bill Hollister, Principal Officer Policy & Development at Amtrak:

AMTRAK will be owner, operator, and maintainer of the new station. This is a bit of a deviation from our policies nationally, but we have been convinced this is the correct course of action in Rochester.

National annual ridership is currently at 31.2 million, 11.5 million (one third of all national traffic) in NYS, 1.8 million on the Empire line, and 145,00 passengers per year in Rochester, up from 76,000 five years ago. This represents a very substantial increase.

Funding is in place. AMTRAK is ready to move forward.

Congresswoman Slaughter:

Rochester has seen an 89% increase in ridership over the last 5 years.

New side tracks will obviate conflicts with freight traffic, and make boarding and alighting, especially for the disabled, much easier to achieve.

Funding is in place. New station will open within 30 months.

Joan McDonald, NYSDOT Commissioner:

Project represents 3 wins of TIGER grants in 4 tries. Budget of $26.5 million now in place.

Note that 94 miles of CSX track now in AMTRAK hands (Schenectady to Poughkeepsie, announced by the Governor December 4th). High speed and improved passenger rail on NYS is on the way.

NYSDOT has created an executive committee for the project: Slaughter, McDonald, Richards, AMTRAK.

Project will be delivered design/build – NYSDOT now crafting the RFP.

Mayor Richards:

Existing station built as a temporary in 1978. Time for a permanent solution.

New building will be a reflection of Rochester, a gateway. Design work achieved to date will be continued.

(Not sure what this last means, but his implication clearly was that the publically presented, and favored, design would somehow remain intact).

Trailways and Greyhound representatives were present. Phase II with inclusion of buses continues to move forward.

Mo Duggan again thanked Reconnect for being involved, sharing our views, supporting the project. She will keep us posted of any developments.

— End —


  1. Could we please not have any more retro architecture in Rochester? Build something contemporary, not a weak rehash of the old station. Trains are the future, not the past.

  2. Martin–Are you talking “something contemporary” in the vein of the architectural eye-candy that is the new Bus Terminal? Claude Bragdon deliver us!

  3. I have to agree with Martin. I know we all mourn the loss of Bragdon’s station but the new station should be “of its time.” Too much of what is built in Rochester is poor facsimiles of old architecture. A talented designer can conceive of a new building that is warm and welcoming that is forward looking. For those of us who want awkward copies of old train stations, please see the East Avenue Wegmans. All that being said, architectural style preferences are subjective and anything that is built there will be better than what we have, so long as it is high quality, functional, and well maintained.

  4. Martin–

    It’s funny you defend your advocacy of a “contemporary” (sorry but what does that term even mean anymore?–modern?, postmodern?, Bauhaus?, International Style? Anti-ornament..) design for the new train station with the statement: “Trains are the future, not the past.” I get (and share)specifically the passion for rail travel you are trying to express and ignite in others with the statement, however, one fact explodes its viability as a defense of a “contemporary” design vis-a-vis the train station. And that fact is: Trains ARE from our past. And yet that’s not used by you and most reasonable people as a reason not to pursue their wider use and RE-integration into the transportation fabric, the cries from certain quarters as to their being “impractical” or “old-fashioned” notwithstanding. In that spirit, shouldn’t the design of our public architecture (and ok– architecture in general) be just as unencumbered by restrictive ideas of what is “contemporary” or “of our time.” Looking back objectively on the historicism movement in the architecture of the 19th century how was that any more “of its time” then than it would be today? And yet it helped spawn buildings that we look at in awe and strive to preserve today. Why then should at least some variant of gothic, classical and other styles be so taboo today?

    Btw, Jason, I was all set to belittle the mere idea of even including “supermarket design” in this discussion but on that note have you driven down East Avenue past the new Wegman’s building lately? Try and tell me that it’s not a little bit impressive in its monumentality–this being due no doubt to its being situated in a small scale urban streetscape as opposed to the typical environs were so used to with most Wegmans stores.

  5. Intermodal Transportation Centers are great, but they do come with a few problems – all of which can be addressed. If you ever get a chance, you may wish to visit the ITC in Fort Worth, Texas for a few lessons learned – good and bad. Here, we have Amtrak, Greyhound, Trinity Railway Express commuter trains, and virtually all city transit bus lines of the FWTA (“The T”) are funneled through this one point. It’s perfect from a connectivity standpoint, but we have a few ongoing issues. When Greyhound moved in a few years ago the city and county jails began sending inmates to the ITC immediately upon release. In addition, our mission district is one mile away and when the homeless shelters close at 7:00 AM each morning, many people take the “SPUR” bus to the ITC to hang out for the day until the shelters reopen at 5:00PM. I don’t blame them – I’d do the same thing if I was in their shoes – but understandably, panhandling is a problem due to a few “opportunistic” individuals with the peak panandling period being between noon and 5:00PM.
    Additionally, the concourse area and restrooms were built much to small. Again, since Greyhound moved in, the heavy influx of interstate/connecting passengers have overwhelmed the restrooms with many people attempting to bathe at the sinks and change clothes in the restroom stalls.
    Don’t get me wrong – ITC’s are a good thing, but it’s important to become aware of lessons learned from other cities and make sure these issues are addressed.
    One more thing: Please, PLEASE don’t name this station the “Rochester ITC”. This may sound good to transportation planners, but the second question I get when I tell someone to meet me at the ITC (after “what the hell is an ITC?”) is “where is it?”. Our ITC is located at 9th & Jones streets downtown. It was originally going to be named “9th Street Station” which would have been perfect until the geeky transit planners decided to rename it.
    Again, if you’re ever in North Texas please stop by for a look.

  6. @JamieDFW I agree with the naming A better name than “Rochester ITC” would do wonders. It sounds to brutalist and plain.

  7. Interesting comment from the “trainorders” forum:

    “A similar fiasco is underway in Rochester, NY. The city/NYSDOT is planning an 800 ft. platform and 1300 ft. interlocked siding to accomodate the Lake Shore Limited, which runs 14-15 cars long, plus two engines, plus whatever PV’s are stuck on the back. The train will not be able to stop without fouling the main and will not be able to make a double stop without fouling the main for quite some time. Should be entertaining if they don’t hire a firm that realizes there is a problem.”

  8. Here we are 13 months later. If they intend to have this station built within 30 months of December 2012, as stated above (Summer 2014), there should already be dirt flying. I’ve been riding in and out of the existing station since March 2013 and see no evidence of even the most preliminary stages of such a project.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *