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Mayor Brown, Senator Schumer, Congressman Higgins Launch Start Of Construction For “Cars Sharing Main Street” Project

Sep 3, 2013
Press Release
Construction begins on the $21 million 500 Block redevelopment, marking more positive progress on a critical project designed to open up access and revive activity in the heart of downtown Buffalo
Today, Mayor Byron Brown was joined by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Brian Higgins to announce the start of phase-one construction along the 500 Block of Main Street, the prominent stretch between Chippewa and Mohawk Streets. The total cost to return two-way traffic to this stretch of downtown Main Street is about $21 million.  Last year, the Brown Administration sought a $15 million federal grant, which the City won with critical support and advocacy from Senator Schumer and Congressman Higgins. This, coupled with $10 million already secured from the state, will fund the redevelopment.
“We are proud of the progress we’re making to return two-way traffic to downtown Main Street,” said Mayor Brown.  “The redevelopment of the 500 Block is another important step in returning cars to Main Street in downtown Buffalo, which has been one of my goals since taking office.  I want to thank Senator Schumer and Congressman Higgins for working closely with us to secure federal funding for Buffalo’s Main Street project, paving the way for increased business and economic activity in the downtown area.”
“Today, as we begin construction for the 500 Block of the Cars on Main Street project, it’s clearer than ever that this federal investment will truly reinvigorate Buffalo’s downtown,” said Senator 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 I’m thrilled to have fought so hard for this federal grant to return to that streetscape.  As we’ve already started to see, 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, will help create hundreds of good-paying construction jobs, and will reopen Main Street for business.”
"At either end of Main Street we see jobs, activity and excitement growing with development at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and along Buffalo's waterfront," said Congressman Higgins. "Now block by block we are opening up new potential along Downtown Buffalo's central core by providing access that once again draws people, and the buying power they carry with them, back to Buffalo's Main Street."
In 2005 Senator Schumer and Congressman Higgins secured a total of $6 million in funding through the federal highway bill (SAFTEA-LU), delivering the first federal dollars toward the restoration of vehicle traffic to Main Street.    Schumer and Higgins later advocated for additional funds for the project in communications with Transportation Secretary LaHood.  In December 2011, Senator Schumer and Congressman Higgins announced the City of Buffalo would receive a $15 million federal investment, through the TIGER III Grant Program, toward additional upgrades to transportation and automobile access to downtown Buffalo’s Main Street. 
Since the “Cars Sharing Main Street” began in 2008, more than $70 million worth of private sector projects have either been completed or are in the city’s economic development pipeline between Goodell Street and Lafayette Square. That includes the Hamister Group’s $40 million makeover of the largely vacant Tishman Building.
This project will include 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.  Also, this will reopen Mohawk to traffic between Washington and Pearl.
At the same time, the $8 million redevelopment continues along the 600 Block of Main Street, a stretch between Tupper and Chippewa in the Theater District.  This will be the first block that vehicular traffic will be returned to Main and will share the track bed with the LRRT. This project also includes the installation of bike lanes, 45 parking spaces, five loading zones and 49 street trees and 22 planters. In addition, new light and sign poles will be installed.
Both projects complement and continue the streetscape theme of the $2.2 million 700 block redevelopment project that brought immediate private sector investment when completed in 2009.