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New York halts non-essential construction projects

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Posted at 11:28 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-28 09:29:22-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Construction season in Western New York is usually just beginning, but now much of it as at a standstill.

On Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo shut down non-essential construction projects. Construction is included under essential businesses that are allowed to operate. Now, only essential projects like work on roads, hospitals, and utilities will continue.

Joe Benedict is the Executive Director of the Construction Exchange, which is a trade association. He said two-thirds of the construction companies in Western New York are small businesses, and they will be most affected by the executive order.

“They’re probably going to have to shut down for a while, lay their employees off, and try to find a way to make it through those times," Benedict said.

Benedict and the Upstate New York Construction Associations sent a letter to Cuomo on Thursday urging him to allow all construction work to continue. He said the conditions between workers conditions here and downstate are different. He emphasized that worker safety is top priority.

“Six foot distancing, not having as many people on a job site, hand washing you know, you name it" he said. "So they put all those in place, and we thought we were doing a fairly good job at that.”

One of the city's largest construction projects is also put on hold, the work being done at Seneca One Tower where M&T is building a new tech hub. Project developer Douglas Jemal tells 7 Eyewitness News the effect this will have on the project timeline is unclear.

Douglas Development is also working on the Buffalo Police Station at 74 Franklin Street, that too is paused.

Benedict said when construction begins again, it will be tough for companies to pick up where they left off.