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Next phase to restore auto traffic on Buffalo's Main Street begins

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

By the year 2020, auto traffic will again be rolling on Lower Main Street between Scott and Exchange Streets, sharing that stretch of the road with NFTA Metro Rail service. Work on a $22.5 million phase of the City of Buffalo's Cars Sharing Main Street Project is now underway.

Construction crews have removed what was a NFTA Metro Rail station. Crews are demolishing the pavement, working carefully to avoid a water main that city officials serves numerous nearby customers. Utilities will soon be relocated along Scott Street.

This phase of the project is scheduled to take approximately one and a half years. The slower pace, it was explained, will minimize obstructions to traffic and people. A short walk away from the metro rail line, crews were continuing to erect the future Explore & More Children's museum. Next door, a developer has been chosen to begin work on the South Aud Block. 

Mike Finn, the city's Deputy Commissioner of Public Works, says officials have considered other nearby construction projects while planning their work on Main Street. 

"We've anticipated much of the work going on down in this Lower Main block and accommodated for all of it, so the construction that's going on downtown can happen at the same time and with minimal disruption to each project," Finn said. "We'll have to be in constant contact with all of the various contractors to make sure that no one is stepping on each other's toes and we can all get along."

Of the $22.5 million dollars set aside to pay for the construction, $19 million comes from the federal government while New York State is contributing approximately $5.45 million. 

Buffalo mayor Byron Brown said returning auto traffic to portions of Main Street where, for decades, it was closed to make way for the Metro Rail has played a vital role in the city's new economic opportunities. He credits the return of auto access, for example, as a reason why it was possible to secure a new movie theater complex in downtown Buffalo.

"What we have seen with the Cars Sharing Main Street Project has been nothing but short of transformational, when you look at all the investments that have been made from the Medical Campus all the way down to HarborCenter," he said.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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