Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will release the first $1,616,000 of a $15 million TIGER grant to upgrade transportation and automobile access to downtown Buffalo’s Main Street. Specifically, this funding will be used to complete planning and design on the project to return cars to the 500 Block of Main St., and is the first installment of a $15 million grant that Schumer helped to secure for the City in December of 2011. The remaining $13,384,000 in funding will be obligated once the project reaches the construction phase. By securing the release of the first phase of this funding, the City can recoup the roughly $400,000 they have already spent on design and continue to move forward with this critical project.
“The release of these federal dollars for the first phase of the Main Street Revitalization Project will allow the City of Buffalo to put promised money towards the completion of the planning and design for this project, boost economic activity in the Downtown area and create construction jobs in Western New York,” said Schumer. “The City of Buffalo cannot afford to wait to revitalize Main Street, which is why I am pleased that the US Department of Transportation has released the first phase of this funding. I was honored to have worked with Mayor Byron Brown to secure the original grant this past December, and I will continue to work with the federal government to ensure the funding continues to be delivered to the City in a timely manner.”
“This $1.6 million investment is the first installment of a $15 million federal TIGER grant dedicated to help Buffalo open up the largest stretch of Downtown Main Street to vehicular traffic, a project designed to spur economic development and create hundreds of good-paying construction jobs,” said Mayor Byron Brown, noting that the funding will enable the planning phase of the prominent 500 Block Redevelopment Project to move forward. “We plan to bring two-way vehicular traffic back to Main Street in Downtown Buffalo. Today’s announcement highlights the tremendous spirit of cooperation that exists among all of our partners, including Senator Charles Schumer, who has been a strong advocate for the ‘Cars Sharing Main Street’ project.”
On December 12, 2011, Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the City of Buffalo was set to receive a $15 million federal investment from the Department of Transportation to begin these upgrades to transportation and automobile access to downtown Buffalo’s Main Street. Schumer had personally called and sent a letter to Transportation Secretary LaHood in November of 2011, and pushed for the City’s project to be funded.
This initial investment will allow the City of Buffalo 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. Also, this project would re-introduce vehicular traffic along Buffalo’s downtown transit mall and improve downtown traffic circulation. These infrastructure improvements would create construction jobs in the short term, and would better link the residents of Buffalo to restaurants, sports venues and agencies in the Downtown area. Schumer noted that these enhancements would 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 has emphasized that the Main Street Multi-Modal and Revitalization Project would reverse these trends, improve access to downtown Buffalo, and provide a shot in the arm for local businesses and the economy.