Cars sharing Main Street: transforming downtown Buffalo

I recently blogged about the tremendous impact that Buffalo Urban Development Corporation’s (BUDC) Downtown Buffalo Infrastructure and Public Realm Framework is having on downtown Buffalo.

The framework, intended to serve as a guide for strategic infrastructure development downtown, targeted specific investment nodes including the Main Street Investment Corridor.

Given the public support and tremendous impact that the project has had on downtown’s revitalization, we feel strongly that the Cars Sharing Main Street initiative should be made a top priority for the community.

The first phase of the Cars Sharing Main Street program, completed in 2009, covered the 700 block. Phase two, which returned cars to the 600 block, was recently completed.

Completed street on the 600 block

Right now, there is work underway to bring cars back to Mohawk Street.

Acquiring funding for Cars Sharing Main Street has been a collaborative effort between the federal government, New York State and the City of Buffalo.

Thus far, $21 million has been spent on the first three phases.

The effects of the Cars Sharing Main Street initiative goes well beyond returning cars to the street.

Sidewalks, lighting, bike lanes, metro rail platforms and many street-scape features have been added or improved as a part of the program.

Furthermore, spin-off development in these areas is evident, with the promise of an improved street-scape that is helping to spur redevelopment in the 500 block.

The project has improved access throughout downtown and is beautifying our city’s most significant street.

Main Street is becoming a more attractive, sought out destination thanks to the program, and plans call for the initiative to span down the entire street, all the way down to Canalside.

Unfortunately, funding for the project, particularly at the federal level, has become more difficult to come by.

New sidewalk at 710 Main Street
New sidewalk at 710 Main Street

Competition for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants, which helped drive the third phase of the project, has become even more fierce.

Currently, stakeholders are seeking a TIGER grant for work from Exchange to Scott Street at the southern end of the project area.

While a competitive package has been put together to request the necessary funding, the next phase of the project hinges on the support and backing of stakeholders and the community at large.

Local businesses, community members and elected officials understand the power that a renewed Main Street has to enhance the quality of life and opportunities for downtown, the city, and our entire region.

It is critical that stakeholders continue to come together to help push this regionallyimportant project to its completion and advocate for solutions to the funding challenges we face.

While we’ve made a great deal of progress thus far, there is still more work to do in order to see Car Sharing Main Street to its completion.

Let’s get creative and get Cars on Main Street so that we can continue to rebuild the rest of downtown.