10.26.15

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND ANNOUNCE: U.S. DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION HAS AWARDED CITY OF BUFFALO $18 MILLION IN FED FUNDS TO TRANSFORM BUFFALO’S LOWER MAIN STREET – PROJECT WILL REOPEN CAR ACCESS, REVAMP METRO RAIL FACILITIES ON CITY’S MAIN STREET & CONTINUE TO BREATHE NEW LIFE INTO BUFFALO’S DOWNTOWN

Schumer Urged Federal DOT To Make Major Investment in City of Buffalo’s Cars Sharing Main St. Project; Grant Will Allow City to Move Forward with Lower Main St. Project – Bringing New Life to Downtown & Building on Waterfront Success

Schumer & Gillibrand Were Instrumental in Securing Initial $15 Million in TIGER Funds in 2011 for 500 Block of Main St; Now With This Additional $18 Million for Lower Main St. Total Federal Investment in the Project Exceeds $33 Million 

Schumer, Gillibrand: Project Will Build on Previous Success and Continue Main St. Transformation

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has awarded the City of Buffalo with $18 million in federal funds that will allow the city to transform Buffalo’s lower Main Street by making it accessible to both cars and light rail. Schumer previously pushed for Buffalo to receive this critical federal investment from this extremely competitive process. Schumer and Gillibrand said the City of Buffalo will now be able to upgrade transportation and automobile access to downtown’s Main Street. Specifically, it would re-introduce vehicular traffic to lower Main Street and rebuild the Lower Main Street segment of Metro Rail. Since Buffalo’s Metro Rail was put in place 25 years ago, Main Street in downtown Buffalo has been closed to vehicular traffic, which is a hindrance on economic activity in this area. The City of Buffalo will receive these funds through the USDOT’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant Program – one of the most competitive federal grant programs. This funding when combined with the $15 million Senator Schumer secured for the 500 Block of Main Street in 2011 brings the total federal commitment to the project to over $33 million. 

“I am thrilled to announce that this critical federal investment of $18 million in TIGER funds will breathe new life into Buffalo’s downtown,” said Senator Schumer. “This has been a top priority for Buffalo and Mayor Byron Brown and we worked very hard to get this one past the finished line. This $18 million award – along with the $15 million we previously secured – have been a game changer for Buffalo’s Main Street and downtown, and it will help create hundreds of good-paying construction jobs. With the completion of this project, businesses and restaurants will be clamoring to open up shop, and we will once again see ‘open for business’ signs along Main Street. Step One was breathing new life into Main Street, and Step Two is connecting main Street to buffalo’s exciting waterfront revival.”   

“This federal funding through the Department of Transportation will allow the City of Buffalo to make critical upgrades to transit and pedestrian facilities,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Investing in our transportation infrastructure helps to create jobs now, and lay the foundation for more jobs tomorrow. Combined with previously awarded federal funds, Buffalo will be able to continue the development momentum generated by these investments.

“Today, I thank Senator Charles Schumer who has been relentless in his fight in securing over $33 million in federal funding for Main Street and those funds, when combined with significant local dollars, are breathing new life into downtown Buffalo and spurring tremendous growth and investment. Today’s announcement by Senator Schumer is tremendous news for downtown Buffalo and the entire region. The Senator and I have worked closely over the years on the Cars Sharing Main St. project and we are beginning to see real results. I am proud to stand with Senator Schumer, who has been a champion for this project from day one, to make this exciting and transformative announcement,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

Schumer and Gillibrand explained that vehicles have been blocked from Lower Main Street since the Metro Rail system was built over 30 years ago. Schumer and Gillibrand noted that the Metro Rail is a significant benefit to Buffalo, but blocking automobiles off from the premier downtown street has resulted in vacant properties, lost property and tax value, and has hampered the ability to attract new businesses and employers to the area. Schumer and Gillibrand said the project to re-introduce vehicular traffic to Main Street has already been a great success, with investment pouring into the 700, 600, and now 500 blocks of Main St. This additional federal investment to rebuild and redesign the lower section of Main St. will build on that success and continue to grow the private section investments in downtown Buffalo. Returning cars to Lower Main St. was a top priority for Senator Schumer and the City of Buffalo because it is a critical component to improving downtown traffic circulation, increasing opportunities for development and it will also help to support the ongoing development of Canalside and the future redevelopment of One Seneca Tower, a recently vacated 856,000 sq. ft. mixed-use complex located at the project’s northern terminus.

In 2011, Schumer worked alongside Mayor Byron Brown to spearhead the effort to return cars to Main Street in downtown Buffalo. Main Street was once one of the most economically successful and thriving sections of downtown, but since cars were removed nearly 30 years ago, the area has slowly seen a downturn in economic activity and pedestrian traffic. When the project began in 2008, most of the storefronts were barren or underutilized and private sector investment was stifled. In an effort to help redevelop downtown, Schumer led the charge to secure the first $15 million grant in the project and now has once again pushed USDOT, including in personal calls to Secretary Foxx, to make another major investment in Buffalo’s downtown with the hopes of stimulating further growth and development in the surrounding businesses and properties.

The TIGER Discretionary Grant program, which is one of the most competitive in the country, provides an opportunity for DOT to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives. This TIGER award to Main St. brings the total federal investment in the project to over $33 million.

Copies of Senator Schumer’s and Senator Gillibrand’s initial letters to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx are included below: 

Dear Secretary:

I am pleased to write in support the City of Buffalo’s application for $19 million in funding through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. Such funding will enable Buffalo to continue its successful Main Street Multi-Modal Access and Revitalization Project.

Automobiles were removed from Main Street 33 years ago when the light rail Metro Rail system was built.  Buffalo has benefited from Metro Rail, but closing the City’s premier downtown street to automobiles has resulted in vacancy, lost property and tax value, and has hampered efforts to attract new businesses and employers to the region.  The Main Street Multi-Modal Access and Revitalization Project is reversing these negative effects, generating significant economic benefit and transforming Buffalo’s Main Street into a beautiful and complete street.  In 2011, the City of Buffalo was awarded a $15 million TIGER Grant for the 500 Block of Main Street.  The 500 Block re-development is under construction and will be completed this fall.  The 700 Block of Main Street reopened in 2009, and the 600 Block of Main Street reopened in January 2015.  As these blocks have reopened, local businesses have invested in the corridor and flourished.

With funding, the Main Street Multi-Model Access and Revitalization Project reintroduces vehicular traffic to lower Main Street and rebuilds the Lower Main Street segment of Metro Rail.  Obsolete transit and pedestrian facilities, well past their useful life, will be replaced.  Much-needed vehicular access to Main Street buildings and future development sites will be provided, improving downtown traffic circulation to these hard-to-reach blocks. Proposed project improvements will also support the ongoing development of Canalside, a growing regional entertainment and employment district, as well as the redevelopment of One Seneca Tower, a recently vacated 856,000 square foot mixed-use complex located at the project’s northern terminus.   I applaud the City of Buffalo for its foresight and hope its application for funding meets with your approval.

Thank you for your consideration. 

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator 

Dear Secretary Foxx,

I write in support of the application submitted by the City of Buffalo for funding from the TIGER VII Discretionary Grant administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation. This funding will support the Main Street Multi-Modal Access and Revitalization Project.

Automobiles were removed from Main Street 33 years ago when the light rail Metro Rail system was built. Metro Rail certainly benefits Buffalo, however, closing the City’s premier downtown street to automobiles has resulted in vacancy, lost property value and tax revenue, and has hindered efforts to attract new businesses to this region. The Main Street Multi-Modal Access and Revitalization Project is reversing these negative effects, generating significant economic benefit and transforming Buffalo’s Main Street.

The requested funding will be used for the project to re-introduce vehicular traffic to lower Main Street and rebuild the Lower Main Street segment of Metro Rail, along with replacing obsolete transit and pedestrian facilities. Much-needed vehicular access to Main Street buildings and future development sites will be provided, improving downtown traffic circulation to these hard to reach blocks. Proposed project improvements will also support ongoing development of Canalside, a growing regional entertainment and employment district, as well as redevelopment of One Seneca Tower, a recently vacated 856,000 square foot mixed-use complex located at the project’s northern terminus. The 700 Block of Main Street reopened in 2009 and the 600 Block of Main Street reopened in January 2015. In 2011, the City of Buffalo was awarded a $15 million TIGER Grant for the 500 Block of Main Street. The 500 Block re-development is under construction and will be completed this fall.

I ask that you please give this application your full consideration.

 Sincerely,

Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator

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