WNY Delegation Seeks Funding for Main Street in Buffalo

December 12, 2011 Updated Oct 29, 2013 at 3:30 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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WNY Delegation Seeks Funding for Main Street in Buffalo

December 12, 2011 Updated Oct 29, 2013 at 3:30 AM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release ) U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced Monday that the City of Buffalo is set to receive a $15 million federal investment from the Department of Transportation to begin upgrades to transportation and automobile access to downtown Buffalo’s Main Street.

In a personal call and letter to Transportation Secretary LaHood in November, Schumer pushed for the City’s project, which would revitalize Main Street and create construction jobs.

Since Buffalo’s Metro Rail was put in place 25 years ago, Main Street in downtown Buffalo has been closed to vehicular traffic, which is a hindrance on economic activity in this area. The City of Buffalo’s application for this TIGER Discretionary Grant will fund Buffalo’s Main Street Multi-Modal Access and Revitalization Project, which will reopen downtown Main Street to automobile traffic and revamp aging metro facilities.

Schumer has long made the revitalization of downtown Buffalo a major priority, and in 2005 he helped secure $2 million in federal funds for road improvements that will now go towards the restoration of vehicle traffic to Main Street in downtown Buffalo.

“Thanks to this critical federal investment, The Main Street Revitalization Project in Buffalo will breathe new life into its downtown," said Schumer. “Take a walk down Main Street today, and you will see that the image is far different from a time when shops were bustling with activity and cars had freer access to pick up and drop off shoppers, eaters, gawkers and walkers- and this great news means we will take a major leap towards returning the street to that state. Opening up Buffalo’s Main Street to vehicular traffic and improving aging Metro Rail facilities will be a major economic boost for the Downtown, and will pave the way for increased business and economic activity in the area. This plan is an absolute game-changer for Buffalo and will help create hundreds of good-paying construction jobs at a time when we need them the most. With the completion of this project, businesses and restaurants will be clamoring to open up shop, and we will once again see ‘open for business’ signs along Main Street.”

This investment will allow the City of Buffalo to continue to move forward with the Main Street Multi-Modal Access and Revitalization Project, which would spur investment and growth in Buffalo’s downtown area by upgrading transit and pedestrian amenities and improving access to Main Street buildings. The project was selected to receive $15 million investment which is a significant portion of the project’s total costs, despite the intense competition for TIGER grants, with billions worth of requests submitted but only several hundred million to be given out. Also, this project would re-introduce vehicular traffic along Buffalo’s downtown transit mall and improve downtown traffic circulation. These infrastructure improvements will create construction jobs in the short term, and will better link the residents of Buffalo to restaurants, sports venues and agencies in the Downtown area. Schumer noted that these enhancements will also increase property and tax value in Buffalo’s downtown.

Twenty-five years ago, automobile access was eliminated from downtown Buffalo when the Metro Rail system was built. Schumer noted that while the Metro Rail is a benefit to Buffalo, closing the premier downtown street to automobiles has resulted in vacancy, lost property and tax value, and has hampered the ability to attract new businesses and employers to the area. Schumer applauds the Department of Transportation for selecting Buffalo’s Main Street Multi-Modal and Revitalization Project for this funding, which will likely reverse these trends, improve access to downtown Buffalo, and provide a shot in the arm for local businesses and the economy.

New York congressman Brian Higgins, who voiced support for the project earlier this year said:

“This is a huge victory for economic development in Buffalo and Western New York,” said Congressman Higgins, who has been advocating for federal investments in infrastructure over the last several weeks. “We have seen the difference it can make, as evidenced by the new activity after the reopening of the 700 block to two-way traffic. This funding will upgrade transit and pedestrian amenities, enhance downtown traffic circulation and improve access to Main Street buildings, breathing new life into an area desperate for the focus that our urban core deserves.”

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown also issued a statement regarding the project. It reads:

“Buffalo receiving a $15 million Federal Grant for the city’s ‘Cars Sharing Main Street’ project is great news. My administration worked hard on this application, and to secure these critical funds. This grant will support the investment that has already taken place in the Seven Hundred Block of downtown Main Street, along with the money we already have in place for the Six Hundred Block. The ultimate goal of the ‘Cars Sharing Main Street’ project is to increase business, and residential investment along Main Street, and to create more jobs for the residents of this community. I want to thank Senator Charles Schumer, who was a strong advocate in Washington for the city’s federal grant application, and the other members of our Western New York Congressional Delegation.”