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Drive continues to open more of Main Street to vehicular traffic

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

The march of a car-friendly Main Street through Downtown is continuing, with another $18 million in federal funding committed to the project.

It's been a year's-long project of City Hall to return cars to all of Main Street along the surface section of the Metro Rail, but it hasn't been cheap and it hasn't been easy. Mayor Brown points to the success of the 500-block as showing what can be done with better access.

Now, Senator Charles Schumer says the city is getting $18 million for the section between Exchange and Scott.

Congressman Brian Higgins says that opens the way for more private sector investment.

"Look at Donovan (building) for example. That laid vacant as an old abandoned state office building for ten years. It wasn't viable until access to that site was improved," Higgins said.

"But, that's the general operating model with respect to Waterfront development. Creating good public access at the water's edge and also providing good public access and general access to areas that were previously inaccessible."

Higgins says that mix of public infrastructure for private investment works. Mayor Brown says it's not clear when the street work will be completed, now that money is available. The project is pretty much done down to Mohawk and he says the next section will be Mohawk to Court and the hunt is on for that money. There's a separate NFTA study about extending Metro Rail south from Scott to Michigan and potentially further.

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.