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Runaway train station? 

The New York State Department of Transportation has taken the intermodal station project off the City of Rochester's hands, and city officials are wary.

"Our concern is that we've invested a fair amount of time and effort in getting this design and this plan in place, and people are very attached to it," says Mayor Tom Richards.

The $27-million intermodal station for trains and buses will replace the aging Central Avenue train station, which was meant to be temporary when it was built in 1978. Conceptual designs harkening back to Rochester's old Bragdon station have been released.

Richards says there's no telling what state officials will do with the project: they may start from scratch. Another concern is that the state will spend most of the money on improving the tracks, while giving the building short shrift.

"Ultimately, they want to prepare the tracks for high-speed rail," Richards says. "High-speed rail is a wonderful thing, but it's a long time coming here. And we really don't think we should shortchange the terminal for the tracks."

The bulk of the funding for the intermodal station is coming from the state, and the state has been taking a more active role in projects in which it is significantly invested, Richards says.

But the DOT needs to know that the city is watching, he says.

"This is not a big project, so it's kind of fragile in terms of what could actually happen," Richards says. "But it may work out. And one of the ways to make sure it works out is by doing a little moaning and groaning in the beginning."

A state DOT representative said last week that the department is "knee deep in storm response" and couldn't provide comment on this story.

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