BUFFALO, NY-- The City of Buffalo continues to move forward in bringing traffic back to Main Street in the heart of downtown.
For decades, the 600-block of Main Street has been free of regular vehicular traffic. This forced many businesses to shut their doors for good.
But, that could be changing very soon!
Mayor Byron W. Brown announced Monday afternoon the contractor who will begin work to return cars to downtown's 600 block of Main Street in the Theater District is Mark Cerrone, Inc. Brown said Cerrone's $6.27 million bid came in the lowest, and well under the estimated $8 million budget, and thus he was awarded the contract. Work on the block between Tupper and Chippewa is expected to begin this September and be completed in September of 2013.
"Main street is now going to become the most complete street in the region with cars pedestrians rail and bicycles all sharing the same roadway," said Mayor Brown.
The plan calls for one northbound and one southbound lane of traffic, 45 new parking spaces, five drop zones for the theaters, and cars will be driving on the Metro Rail Tracks, but officials said it has a sophicated system of gates and levers and they promise it's safe.
"It's been figured out. We have it planned out. It's going to be successful. NFTA they're on board with it as well," said Buffalo Public Works Commission Steve Stepniak. "It's not just about cars on Main Street. It's about updating the infrastructure that's up here."
Officials said opening up Main Street will be critical in linking the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to the Canal Side project and spurring more investment.
"As you all know when the Light Rail Rapid Transit was installed in the early '80s, it essentially was the death nail of retail in downtown Buffalo. We believe that retail is going to start to come back very aggressively with this project," said Brown.
Althea Willams-Little who owns Hair To Go Natural Salon on the 700 Block of Main Street says when that stretch opened up to traffic two years ago, only good things happened. She's ready for the work to continue.
"If they open up the other end of main street it would definitely be better...because people will know where they're going and then just driving down Main Street is always better and then hopefully new businesses will come here," said WIlliams-Little.
For Williams-Little, it can't come soon enough.
"I hope by the time I get too old to enjoy it that there will be some new life on Main Street," she said.
Work to begin opening up the 500 block is expected to begin in 2013. It is expected to cost as much as $20 million, but last year the Brown Administration secured a $15 million federal grant and the state has promised $10 million.