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Schumer, On The Heels Of Delivering $33M To Return Cars to Main Street, Calls on DOT To Deliver $25M To Make Downtown More Accessible To East Buffalo

Senator Launches New Effort To Secure Rebuilding American Infrastructure With Sustainability And Equity (RAISE) Grant To Finally Make Main St Transportation Infrastructure Safer For Cars, Cyclists, And Pedestrians

Schumer: It’s Time To Put Buffalo In The Fast Lane For A Transportation Transformation!

Standing at the Summer-Best NFTA Station on Buffalo’s beleaguered “middle” Main Street, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today launched a major new push for $25 million in federal funding to fix the roadway between Goodell St. and the Kensington Expressway.

This project, Schumer says, builds on the successful “Cars on Main” project as it enters its homestretch, and would finally repair the pot hole-ridden stretch of Main Street, which separates East Buffalo from downtown. Schumer wrote to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg advocating for the city’s recent Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant application, which will transform nearly 2.5 miles of Main Street roadway, increase safety, add bike lanes, boost walkability, and breathe new economic energy to reconnect communities.

“Anyone who regularly travels along this bumpy and pot hole-ridden section of Buffalo’s Main Street knows how treacherous it can be on your car, your bicycle, your wheelchair, or even your feet. Our infrastructure should connect, not divide the city. That’s why I am here with Mayor Byron Brown to say it is time we pave over this problem and finally allow Main Street to fulfill its purpose again – to serve as a  connection for all neighborhoods, particularly East Buffalo, to access downtown in a safe, walkable, sustainable way,” said Senator Schumer. “We must strike while the iron is hot. The historic funding increases I was able to secure in the Bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs Law, give us a unique opportunity to put Buffalo in the fast lane for a transportation transformation. That is why I wrote to Secretary Buttigieg directly to tell him Buffalo’s roads need the investment, and with the Cars Sharing Main project in the homestretch, it is time to put a down payment on helping the Queen City become more equitable and accessible for all.”

“Main Street in Buffalo looks very different from how it looked in 1998 and that is no coincidence,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. “For twenty years, Senator Schumer has been a champion of Main Street’s revitalization and today is no exception. This funding will allow us to dramatically improve middle Main Street and bring it into the 21st century for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers alike.”

Schumer explained that the RAISE Grants, formerly known as BUILD or TIGER, is a highly competitive national grant program through the U.S. Department of Transportation which fund transportation projects of national and regional significance. Schumer has a long history of securing funding for the revitalization of Buffalo’s Main Street. The senator played an integral role in securing over $33 million for the Cars Sharing Main project, $15M in 2009 and $18M in 2015, from the USDOT TIGER grant program.

This latest venture called Buffalo’s Transforming Main Street: Building Equity and Assuring Mobility through Sustainability (“Main Street BEAMS”) project would revitalize a 2.5-mile corridor of Main Street in the City of Buffalo adjacent to the Masten Park neighborhood to connect East Buffalo to the downtown through a more walkable and modern street.

Schumer said that much of this stretch between Goodell Street and the Kensington Expressway has fallen into extreme disrepair as the result of Buffalo’s recent successes. Construction, utility work, and renovations along the corridor at places like the Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus have contributed mightily to cracked pavement and potholes, which have made commuting this on this road, particularly in the winter months, dangerous for walkers, drivers, and bikers alike. Worse, this chronic disrepair of this section of Main Street has served as a barrier between East Buffalo and the rest of the city. 

This project would completely transform the roadway to provide a smooth and safer commute for all who travel on it, create good paying jobs for the local community, and prime the area for new economic development. Specifically, it would:

  • Completely mill and repave the roadway, addressing the pothole problems and allow for a new, safer traffic design.
  • Add new crosswalks and curbs with Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant ramps and signal infrastructure.
  • Create raised accessible bike lanes with barriers to prevent accidents.
  • Improve the aesthetics of the roadway with benches, bike racks, signage, LED lighting, and greenspace.
  • Showcase local artists and artisans with commissioned works meant to highlight Buffalo’s rich cultural heritages. 

This project also build on the over $10 million Schumer delivered earlier this year through Congressionally Directed Spending Requests for the long desired Buffalo transportation projects including $900,000 for the Riverline, over $1.7M for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to boost its electric bus fleet, and $3M for the NFTA Skybridge and Riverwalk.

Schumer also explained how the Bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs Law contains critical plus-ups for the RAISE program, funded in the bill at $7.5 billion over five years, with $1.5 billion per year. In addition, he said the recent Fiscal Year 2022 spending bill included an additional $775 million, bringing the total amount for FY22 to $2.275 billion, increasing the opportunity for this highly competitive grant compared to previous years.

A copy of Schumer’s letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg appears below:

Dear Secretary Buttigieg,

I write to express my strong support for the City of Buffalo’s $25 million application for funding under the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program. This application seeks to build on the completion of the long-awaited Cars on Main project by revitalizing 2.5 miles of major roadway adjacent to the Masten Park neighborhood and will help reconnect East Buffalo to the rest of the city. As a main artery of Buffalo’s transportation infrastructure, it is critical that we finally invest the needed capital to make Main Street safe, multi-modal, and sustainable for generations to come.

Main Street in Buffalo, particularly a 2.5 mile stretch between Goodell Street and the Kensington Expressway, has fallen into disrepair as the result of construction and renovations along the corridor, as well as a lack of funding for improvements. Anyone who regularly travels along this thoroughfare can attest that potholes and uneven pavement can make this commute treacherous, particularly in the winter months, even causing damage to vehicles. This is especially true for bicyclists and pedestrians, who for years have complained about the state of the roadway and the dangerous terrain for those not in passenger cars. Main Street has always served as a barrier between East Buffalo and the rest of the city, and the condition of the roadway has only made that barrier more intractable.

Most importantly, this project will completely mill and repave the roadway, finally providing a smooth and safer commute for all who will travel on it. This will include a reconfiguration to improve traffic flow, which will feature a travel lane in each direction and a two-way left-turn lane. For pedestrians, new crosswalks and curbs will be added, including Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant ramps at intersections. A one-way cycle track on each side of the roadway will ensure Main Street is truly accessible to cyclists and help prevent accidents between bicycles and cars by establishing a dedicated lane for those who choose to bike. Furthermore, the aesthetics of the roadway will be completely changed as well. Reconstruction of sidewalk buffer zones will include new trash receptacles, benches, bike racks, signage, LED lighting, and artwork, as well as freshly planted trees to line the route.

These improvements will truly make Main Street accessible for all, especially those who live in East Buffalo. This is just the latest step in righting the wrongs of the past, which effectively segregated East Buffalo from the rest of the city. This project was designed with the goal of ensuring equity for all residents of the City of Buffalo, and meets the DOT’s stated goals for sustainability. With the impending completion of the Cars on Main project, which is finally returning vehicular traffic and commercial activity to lower Main Street, this project is critical to the goal making the entirety of Buffalo’s Main Street accessible and navigable for all.

I whole-heartedly support the City of Buffalo’s application and hope that it meets with your approval. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me or a member of my staff if you have any questions.