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Press Releases > Return of Traffic to Main Streets 500 Block

Return of Traffic to Main Streets 500 Block

           
MAYOR BROWN, SENATOR SCHUMER CELEBRATE THE RETURN OF VEHICULAR TRAFFIC TO MAIN STREET’S 500 BLOCK


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


December 15, 2015 – Today, Mayor Byron Brown, Senator Charles Schumer, and Congressman Brian Higgins, joined by members of the State Legislature’s Western New York Delegation, members of the Buffalo Common Council, Empire State Development Corporation, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), Buffalo Place and members of the 500 Block of Main Street business community, marked the completion of the $21 million redevelopment of the 500 Block of Main Street and a ceremonial vehicular parade along this premier stretch of Main Street. 

“We are experiencing unprecedented development, excitement, and growth in the downtown area and the completion of the 500 Block redevelopment project adds fuel to the fire,” said Mayor Brown, noting that his administration sought and won a $15 million federal grant in 2013, which coupled with $10 million already secured from the state, funded this redevelopment project.  “Today marks another important step in returning cars to Main Street, which has been one of my goals since taking office as we continue to support existing businesses and spur more new development in the heart of downtown Buffalo.  I 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.”

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.  Under the leadership of Mayor Brown, the city has been opening Main Street to vehicular traffic block by block over the past several years.

  • 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, and was completed in January 2015. 
  • 500 Block construction began in the fall of 2013 for a total project cost of about $21 million.  It was completed on December 15, 2015.
  • The $22.5 million redevelopment of lower Main Street is scheduled to begin in 2016.  Funding sources are now in the process of being secured for the next phase of the project set for Main Street between Mohawk and Court streets.

Senator Schumer, who was unable to attend in person due to Washington budget negotiations, heralded the completion as further evidence of Buffalo’s revitalization. “Returning cars to Main Street is the latest in a series of developments that have already transformed downtown Buffalo,” Schumer said. “Car traffic on Main St. is just what the doctor ordered for downtown business development, which is one of the reasons we were able to secure another highly competitive TIGER grant to continue this project. I’ve worked closely with Mayor Brown to make sure this important redevelopment extends all the way to lower Main St. and continues to generate new business in Downtown Buffalo.”
 
In October, Senator Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Higgins announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the City of Buffalo $18 million – the city’s second TIGER grant for this effort -- to continue the "Cars Sharing Main Street" project to the now-bustling area near Canalside on Main Street, between Exchange and Scott Streets. The state and city will provide the remaining $4.5 million needed for the project.

"The reopening of Main Street once again provides a welcoming front door to business and residential living in downtown Buffalo," said Congressman Higgins. "With this $15 million federal investment on the 500 block and more than $43 million federal investment project-wide, as we re-open Main Street in downtown, we open up opportunity for the City of Buffalo."

“There’s been great synergy and activity along downtown Main St. from Canalside to the Theatre District, the reopening of the 500 block of Main Street keeps the momentum going,” said Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes. With improved accessibility, new infrastructure, this $21 million project will bring more density to a prime location. Improving downtown access results in more economic activity which is the result of earlier investments along Main Street.

“The closing of Main Street to cars over 33 years ago,  while well-intentioned, ultimately resulted in widespread vacancies, lost property and tax value, and hampered efforts to attract new businesses and employers to our region. But that mistake is now in our past,” said Senator Tim Kennedy. “Through the fierce advocacy of Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Brian Higgins and Mayor Byron Brown, Buffalo’s Main Street corridor has once again come alive. As we continue to open up additional access to Main Street, we will undoubtedly continue to see private sector development coincide with the public investments that are being made.”

“The Western New York Regional Economic Council chose this project as one of its priority projects and Governor Cuomo, through his regional council initiative, granted the city $2 million for the 500 Block of Main Street because it will revitalize Buffalo’s downtown core,” said Empire State Development Regional President Sam Hoyt.  “Today as we cut the ribbon I am proud to see cars, pedestrians and mixed-use returning to Main Street as we together work to promote smart growth, attract young adults and expand business opportunities in the Queen City.”

Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen said, "Today is another important milestone in our ongoing efforts to revitalize downtown Buffalo.  As we bring another stretch of Main Street back to life, we are creating an economic engine that will help create more jobs and spur growth for years to come.”

Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA executive director said, “We are pleased to be a part of the continuing resurgence of our Main Street corridor.  Today marks another completed piece in the revival of the city’s downtown business district that is so vital to the continued growth and development of our great city.  The new Fountain Plaza Metro Rail stations, coupled with a $3.03 million NFTA investment for new track and pre-fabricated concrete panels stand as testament of a true renaissance taking place in Buffalo.”

Keith Belanger, Buffalo Place Inc. Board Chairman, said, “Mayor Brown’s commitment to returning traffic to Main Street has led to dramatic increases in private sector investment, both in terms of building renovations and new small businesses opening or expanding.  This project clearly shows how public-sector investment can drive private investment.  Property values, investment, and new businesses have all been on the rise in the 500 block as the streetscape gets a much needed upgrade. We’re committed to continuing to work with the City and our congressional delegation to continue the momentum.  We won’t stop until you can drive from Goodell to Canalside on Main and all the supporting infrastructure has been rebuilt.”