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Jan 23, 2015
Press Release
City of Buffalo takes another step forward in returning traffic to downtown Main Street paving the way for increased business and economic development activity

BUFFALO– Today, Mayor Byron Brown, joined by Congressman Brian Higgins, members of the Buffalo Common Council, New York State Legislature, Empire State Development Corporation, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), Buffalo Place, Shea’s Performing Arts Center and business community, marked the completion of the $8 million redevelopment of the 600 Block of Main Street with a ceremonial vehicular parade along this premier stretch of Main Street. 

“Reopening downtown Main Street for business and entertainment is a real game-changer for Buffalo and it’s exciting to see vehicles now rolling down this stretch of Main Street for the first time in decades,” said Mayor Brown, noting that vehicles will share this block with the Light Rail Rapid Transit (LRRT), bicycles and pedestrians.  “Today marks a new era for downtown Buffalo and its vibrant theater, restaurant and business district. I thank Congressman Higgins and Senator Schumer for working closely with us to secure federal funding to complete this project, paving the way for increased business and economic activity in the downtown area.”

“Main Street’s downtown bookends at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and Canalside are already bustling with activity but until now, cars went around Main Street instead of down Main Street,” said Congressman Higgins. “With this project Main Street again becomes the front door to Downtown Buffalo businesses, theaters, restaurants, residences and retail shops, returning the vibrancy and critical mass needed to continue Buffalo’s economic resurgence.”

"Returning cars to Main is a top priority for me because it will support existing businesses, spur more new development, and increase the wonderful forward momentum now coursing through Buffalo and Western New York,” said Senator Charles Schumer. "We are experiencing unprecedented development, excitement, and growth in the downtown area and this will add fuel to that fire. I look forward to continuing to work with the City of Buffalo and the NFTA on this great project."

“Today is a day that some believed would never happen – cars are back downtown on Main Street in the City of Buffalo,” said Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes. There’s been great synergy and activity along downtown Main St. from Canalside to the Theatre District. With improved accessibility, new infrastructure and public-private investment, the proper groundwork has been laid to bring new small businesses and jobs along a corridor that needed revitalization. I applaud Mayor Byron Brown for his committed efforts on bringing this project to reality; in addition to Congressman Higgins, Senator Schumer, and my state delegation colleagues for securing the necessary resources.”

“When cars left Main Street over thirty years ago, so did businesses and jobs,” said Senator Tim Kennedy. “I’m thrilled to see traffic finally returning, and the economic activity that will come with it. This is a perfect example of multiple levels of government working together to produce real, tangible results that are going to benefit Western New York. I join Buffalo residents in thanking Senator Schumer, Congressman Higgins and Mayor Brown for their leadership and perseverance on this project. It simply would not have happened without their

“This is a very exciting day for Buffalo residents and yet another significant step forward in our city’s remarkable revitalization,” said Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen.  “Today marks another major milestone for the Cars Sharing Main Street project and I applaud everyone who helped to bring the 600 Block of Main Street back to life.  I now invite all residents and visitors to come back to this vital stretch of Main Street and explore some of the new businesses, restaurants and residential opportunities.”

Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA executive director said, “I want to congratulate Mayor Brown and his team upon the completion of its project to return cars to Main Street.  The numerous enhancements to the streetscape will complement the $6.65 million investment made by the NFTA to install new track and pre-fabricated concrete panels to enhance our riders traveling experience.”

Anthony Conte, President of Shea’s Performing Arts Center and President of the Theatre District Association stated, “We have anxiously awaited this day since the planning for our block began some eight years ago.  The opening to traffic in the 600 block of Main St. will allow much more convenience for our patrons as well as other patrons at Main St. theatres. Our patrons will no longer have to walk around the block to purchase tickets at Shea’s Ticket Office.  Theatre patrons will now be able to be dropped off at the front door of the theatres on Main St.  In addition, the traffic and resulting increased activity in the Theatre District will greatly impact the excitement and vitality of Buffalo’s Theatre District.  This project is the result of great cooperation among the City of Buffalo, NFTA and the many constituencies within the Theatre District.  On behalf of Shea’s and the Theatre District Association, I would like to thank all who were involved in revitalizing Buffalo’s Theatre District as one element of the Cars Sharing Main Street project.”

“The City of Buffalo is delivering a street that is beautiful, maintainable, and one that will significantly improve downtown access,” said Buffalo Place Chairman Keith M. Belanger, noting that concurrent with the Return of Cars to Main Street project, there has been a remarkable amount of private sector investment in downtown.  “In some cases the Main Street project was a catalyst, in other cases a nice complement, in all cases it was likely a factor that the investor considered before making his/her investment. With today’s re-opening of the Theatre District to cars, let me sum up my personal reaction with one word – ‘Bravo’”.    

Buffalo’s downtown Main Street plays a vital role in Buffalo’s new era of opportunity.  Returning vehicular traffic to this 10-block stretch of Main Street corrects what some viewed as an urban planning mistake from the 1980’s, ensuring that Buffalo continues to move forward, and grow into a healthy, vibrant downtown. 

  • The $2.8 million 700 Block was completed in 2009 and included a two-way conversion of Main Street and bicycle lanes. Private sector investment immediately returned.
  • Construction on the 600 Block of Main Street began in late 2012, with a total project cost of $8 million.  The 600 Block redevelopment included: the installation of new curbs, sidewalks, street lighting, traffic signals, on-street parking, Light Rail Rapid Transit (LRRT) station enhancement, and various landscaping improvements which includes trees, planters, benches and the like. Re-development of this block brought immediate private sector investment including an $8 million redevelopment plan for the Market Arcade Cinema Complex which is expected to house a major national movie theater chain.
  • 500 Block construction began in the fall of 2013 and continues - on schedule - for a total project cost of about $21 million.

With the opening of Main Street’s 600 Block – one of the city’s most complete streets – a series of public service announcements, now airing on Government Channel 22 and, were distributed to the media at large to help raise further public awareness.  As with any new roadway, there are a few common sense reminders for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians including: do not follow the light rail through the tunnel, keep a 3 car length distance behind the light rail, pay attention to the posted 15 mph speed limit and be on the look-out for cars, bicyclists and pedestrians when backing out of a parking space.