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High speed rail hearings coming this week

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NY Department of Transportation is seeking public input across the state for high-speed rail.

In an effort to move forward with new high-speed rail service across New York, the state Department of Transportation is seeking public input at a series of meetings all over the state, beginning this week.

To build high-speed rail between Niagara Falls and Albany, the state DOT needs to finish an Environmental Impact Study.  But they can’t do that without public input. So for the next several weeks, six public hearings are going to be held in cities along the so-called Empire Corridor. The six public meetings will be held:

Buffalo, NY Connecticut Street Armory 184 Connecticut St Buffalo, NY 14213 Tuesday, October 19, 2010; 5:30-7:30 p.m. Syracuse, NY Empire Expo Center (Syracuse Fairgrounds) 581 State Fair Blvd Syracuse, NY 13209 Wednesday, October 20, 2010; 5:30-7:30 p.m. Albany, NY Sand Creek Middle School 329 Sand Creek Rd Albany, NY 12205 Tuesday, October 26, 2010; 5:30-7:30 p.m. New York City, NY Moynihan Station 380 West 33rd St New York, NY 10001 Wednesday, October 27, 2010; 5:30-7:30 p.m. Utica, NY City Council Chambers, City Hall 1 Kennedy Plaza Utica, NY 13502 Monday, November 8, 2010; 5:30-7:30 p.m. Rochester, NY Monroe Community College 1000 E. Henrietta Rd Rochester, NY 14623 Wednesday, November 10, 2010; 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Ben Sio, with the New York High Speed Rail Coalition, says once the study is complete, the state will be eligible to apply for grants to build a dedicated third track.

“In the previous two years when we were applying for money we were actually only applying to upgrade the existing rail line. We need to do this study before we can apply and secure money to build the dedicated third track for high-speed rail,” said Sio. "This study actually leads the way and makes us eligible to apply for that funding."

Right now, Amtrak trains share tracks with freight rail. Part of the high-speed rail plan is building a third track along the Empire Corridor to alleviate congestion. Back in the early Summer, CSX managers voiced concerns about high-speed rail disrupting their freight rail operations.

Rep. Louise Slaughter rebutted CSX with a letter to the editor in the Times-Union. Slaughter has been leading upstate’s congressional delegation in lobbying for federal money to build high-speed rail.

A new round of federal stimulus dollars for rail is expected to be announced in the next week or two.

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