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Cars on Main Street program being extended to Canalside area

Michael Mroziak/WBFO News

More vehicular traffic is coming to downtown Buffalo, with Washington agreeing to contribute $18 million to the Cars Sharing Main Street initiative. Sen. Charles Schumer made the announcement Monday, saying it was a federal TIGER grant for the section between Scott and Exchange streets, flanked by Canalside and up to HarborCenter. Schumer says he pushed the grant hard because it was Mayor Byron Brown's highest Washington priority.

"One of our goals is to get what is now called One Seneca, the old HSBC building, redone and revitalized now that downtown Buffalo is coming back. It couldn't happen the way Main Street was. It just stood in the way, people couldn't even get across. Now, with the revitalization of Main Street, we'll be able hopefully to do that," Schumer said.

Brown says the actual construction schedule isn't clear, although the federal money will show up soon. He says it's part of his plan of making downtown a "24/7 live, work, play environment" that includes a mixed commercial and residential community.

"I set a goal of 2,000 additional residential units in downtown Buffalo by 2018. We're well on our way. If that happens, there will be another 4,000 people living in downtown Buffalo," Brown said.

The city has been opening Main Street to vehicular traffic block by block over the past several years. A major part of the project will be to make the tunnel under the old HSBC tower more of a pedestrian and car-friendly structure to encourage access to the waterfront.

The next phase of the project will be between Mohawk and Court streets and the effort is already underway to find money for that construction.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.