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As latest phase of 'Cars Sharing Main Street' nears completion, Higgins, Kennedy, Peoples-Stokes & Brown announce $54m+ in new funding


Tue, Jul 19th 2022 07:00 am

Leaders say infrastructure investment to facilitate cars & Metro Rail on Main Street spurs business growth and opportunity in downtown Buffalo

Congressman Brian Higgins, New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy, New York Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, and City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown were joined by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) and Buffalo Place to mark the near-completion of the latest phase of the “Cars Sharing Main Street” project in downtown Buffalo. The leaders also announced $54.5 million in new funding to continue the work along additional sections of Main Street.

“Public infrastructure investment has a direct and lasting economic impact on communities,” Higgins said. “Returning vehicular traffic to Main Street and associated infrastructure improvements are driving private-sector investment, increasing property values, creating interest in downtown living, and generating business activity where it languished previously. This additional funding will support continued momentum for Buffalo.”

"By investing in projects like ‘Cars Sharing Main,’ we're investing in the way we envision the future of our infrastructure: an efficient economic catalyst centered around inclusivity for all roadway users," said Kennedy, chair of the New York State Senate Transportation Committee. "This new funding will build on the commitments we've already made to this multiphase reconstruction, and leave Buffalo poised to provide additional transportation services throughout downtown and neighboring corridors."

Peoples-Stokes said, "The ‘Cars Sharing Main Street’ project has helped to spark a new life throughout downtown Buffalo. The near completion of latest phase of the project’s serves as a shining example of great use of local, state and federal resources to help revitalize our community by providing public infrastructure investments to spur positive change and growth. I applaud my colleagues in government and all the other community stakeholders whose leadership contributed to making this project a reality."

Brown said, “Completion of work to bring vehicular traffic to the Lower Main Street – between Exchange and Scott streets – will be a major boost to connect the Canalside neighborhood to the downtown corridor. The announcement of an additional $54.5 million to continue the progress on Main Street will build on the great success this project has already had in attracting, maintaining and expanding business, entertainment and residential investment in our downtown core.”

Buffalo Place Executive Director Michael T. Schmand said, “Main Street used to be auto-oriented with six lanes of traffic. When Metro rail was built in the ’80s, the balance went the other way, with sidewalks so wide that even a busy day seemed quiet. Now Main Street is balanced between pedestrians and vehicles, a true pedestrian street. Half the street is spacious sidewalks with gardens and trees. The other half is shared by vehicles and Metro rail for travel and curb parking.”

Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Executive Director Kimberley Minkel said, “We are excited with the collaborative success of this project, and are proud to take an active role in an initiative that will have such a positive impact on our community. Car sharing has improved the pedestrian experience and will allow for more transportation options. This, combined with the recent and innovative transit-oriented development at our LaSalle station, illustrates how real and positive change can happen when we all work together for the benefit of our community. “

Work on the street portion was recently completed to return cars to Main Street from Exchange Street to Scott Street at the lower end of Main Street where it meets Canalside. The $22.5 million project was funded in part by an $18 million federal grant awarded through the FY2015 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, with additional state and local resources. Local firm Mark Cerrone Inc. out of Niagara Falls oversaw construction of the project.

The New York State Transportation Capital Plan includes an additional $54.5 million, a combination of federal highway funding and state resources, to support future phases of the “Cars Sharing Main Street” project.



700 Block – open 2009


600 Block (Theatre District) – open 2015


500 Block (Fountain Plaza) – open 2015


100 Block (Lower Main at Canalside) – open 2022


New funding for future phases


Total investment

$107,907,172 (federal, state, city)

Higgins’ team said, “Automobiles were first removed from Main Street in downtown Buffalo from Tupper Street to South Park Avenue approximately 40 years ago with introduction of the above-ground Metro rail. After removing vehicular traffic, property values in the area decreased by 54%, retail occupancy dropped by 47%, and retail jobs decreased by 92%. Total vacancy along this section of Main Street between 1987 and 2000 increased by 28%.”

The “Cars Sharing Main Street” project opens up multimodal access, supporting light rail, cars, bicycles and pedestrians down the main thoroughfare between the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and Canalside.

Higgins’ team said, “Buffalo has experienced tremendous economic growth as a result of this investment. Buffalo Place recently reported a 359% increase in downtown housing units in the central business district since 2000. Over approximately a decade, downtown Buffalo has seen nearly 4 million square-feet of new buildings, an 800,000-square-foot increase in occupied office space, a 1.2 million-square-foot reduction in vacant space, and some 1,500 additional individuals taking residence in downtown, according to a 2019 Buffalo Place accounting.

“Over the past 10 years, there has been significant progress with respect to transit-oriented development along throughout the Metro rail. Examples would be at the station at Main and Allen (BNMC), The DL&W, and most recently the interest in commercial development at the LaSalle Metro Station.”

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