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High speed rail hearings set for March

ALBANY – The State Department of Transportation announced six public hearings will be held in March about plans for improving passenger and freight rail service on the Empire Corridor between New York City and Niagara Falls. The sessions, which will provide opportunities for the public to comment, will focus on the High Speed Rail Empire Corridor Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), which has been approved by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

"Extending high speed passenger rail service to the Empire Corridor west of Albany will be good for all of New York State, bringing with it jobs, tourism, economic development and a cleaner environment," Commissioner Joan McDonald said.

The sessions in Albany, Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester, Utica and Poughkeepsie will feature informational open houses from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. They will focus on the DEIS and provide updates about ongoing passenger rail projects. Project managers and technical experts will be available to discuss the DEIS and answer questions throughout each session.

Public hearings, during which the public can submit formal comments about the DEIS, will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Each hearing will begin with an informational presentation about the DEIS. The meetings are sponsored by NYSDOT and the FRA, which are conducting the environmental review.

The DEIS examines the feasibility of higher speed passenger rail service alternatives along the 463-mile Empire Corridor between New York City and Niagara Falls, looking at how five potential alternatives would impact mobility, the environment and economic growth across New York State. The public is encouraged to review the DEIS at https://www.dot.ny.gov/empire-corridor.

The public meeting schedule follows:

Tuesday 03/04/14
Albany Nanotech Complex
257 Fuller Road, Albany, NY 12203

Wednesday 03/05/14
Syracuse NBT Bank Stadium
1 Tex Simone Drive, Syracuse, NY 13208

Thursday 03/06/14
Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum
263 Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14203

Friday 03/07/14
Rochester National Museum of Play at the Strong
One Manhattan Square, Rochester, NY 14607

Tuesday 03/11/14
Utica Utica Train Station
321 Main Street, Utica, NY 13501

Wednesday 03/12/14
Poughkeepsie Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center
12 Vassar Street, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

In addition, written comments may be mailed to David Chan, Project Manager, New York State Department of Transportation, 50 Wolf Road, Pod #61, Albany, NY 12232. Comments also may be submitted through NYSDOT's website at https://www.dot.ny.gov/empire-corridor or via email to empirecorridor@dot.ny.gov with the subject line ''Draft EIS.'' Comments will be accepted through Monday, March 24, 2014.