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Initiative aims to make Williamsville more walkable

Ashley Hassett

An ongoing refurbishing project in Williamsville needs federal funds. Senator Charles Schumer announced Tuesday that the ‘Picture Main Street’ project, which is facing an estimated $7 million cost, has the opportunity to apply for two federal grants.

The project is eligible for a $3.5 million grant through the New York State Department of Transportation’s Transportation Enhancement Program. The funds would be used to widen sidewalks, make aesthetic improvements, increase parking in the area, update signage, traffic signals and lighting, bring more bicycle racks to the area, as well as lower the speed limit on the street. 

Schumer said the funds are crucial to making Main Street safer and more business-friendly.

“Main Street is a bustling thoroughfare. The street is wide, but it is very, very busy and it operates at or above capacity most of the time. That spells gridlock, that spells bumper to bumper traffic. Because it’s a wide street and we have a large number of elderly, particularly in Williamsville, it’s hard to cross the street. So, when pedestrians can’t safely cross the street to get to their next local stop, they say I’m going to shop somewhere else,” said Schumer.  

The project also has the opportunity to secure $3.2 million from the Environmental Facilities Corporation through a provision within the Clean Water Act. That program will allow for a green storm water system to be put in to handle heavy rains in the area. 

“With his support I am confident that we can turn Main Street into a safer, pedestrian friendly center, attracting new investment opportunities while simultaneously facilitating the growth and development of local businesses,” said Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa.

The federal funds are expected to provide leverage for other Williamsville projects that include updating the historic water mill on East Spring Street. It will also bolster private sector investment into the area.