There will be a public hearing on the recently published Environmental Assessment (EA) of the City of Buffalo Main Street Multi-Modal Access and Revitalization Project this Monday, April 27th. The hearing will be held at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library Central branch, located at Lafayette Square, and will run from 5:00 p.m. through 7:00 p.m. The EA evaluates the environmental effects of the return of vehicular traffic to lower Main Street between Tupper Street and Scott Street.
As part of the hearing, a 6:00 p.m. presentation will be made detailing results of the Environmental Assessment, with time allotted afterwards for citizens to voice their questions and concerns.
The project consists of the following elements:
• Restore two-way traffic by allowing vehicular traffic to share the LRRT trackbed with the light rail trains from Tupper Street to Scott Street;
• Remove the NFTA Theater Station;
• Enhance the aboveground light rail stations by the addition of radiant heat to the station platforms, glazed walls for winter weather protection, audio and visual real time Metro information displays, improved signage, and lighting, and camera monitoring of Main Street operations and security.
• Technological improvements to the Bridge Ramp between the station and the rail car;
• Provide approximately 209 on-street parking spaces and loading spaces abutting the sidewalk along both sides of Main Street;
• Provide dedicated left turn lanes at the southbound Tupper Street intersection;
• Reconnect Eagle Street and Mohawk Street to Main Street (including new traffic
signals at these intersections);
• Relocate the existing catenary poles from the LRRT trackbed to the sidewalk and combine with the existing streetlights;
• Provide designated or signed bike lanes in the Theatre District to link future bike lanes in the north to the existing bike system at the Erie Canal Harbor including; a shared, signed, 14-foot-wide travel lane around the portal and a dedicated five-footwide bike lane along Main Street from the portal to Chippewa Street;
• Reduce sidewalk width from 37.75 feet to approximately 25.75 feet (the sidewalks will continue to be wider than the 20-foot sidewalks in place prior to the LRRT system construction);
• Provide visibly distinct pedestrian crosswalks at all intersections; and,
• Improve paving, landscaping, and street furnishings from Tupper to Scott Street.
Buffalo is proposing to join a long list of communities that given up on pedestrian malls. A recent survey of 72 communities that constructed pedestrian malls found that 78 percent of them have completely or partially reopened their pedestrian mall to vehicular traffic, and an additional 10 percent are considering such a move.
According to the EA, construction will be done in three phases between 2009 and 2011 beginning at Tupper Street and continuing south. Phase 1 (2009) – Tupper to Chippewa Street; Phase 2 (2010) – Chippewa Street to Exchange Street; and Phase 3 (2011) – Exchange Street to Scott Street, with some incidental track work south of Scott Street. Each phase would last for one construction season and traffic would be reintroduced following the completion of each phase of construction.
Total construction cost for the three phases is estimated to be approximately $50.6 million, excluding soft costs and contingencies. Soft costs and contingencies are expected to be an additional $10.1 million.
Portion of the Theater District from Market Arcade (left) to tunnel entrance.
The full assessment is available online. Copies are also available in the Buffalo Place office at 671 Main Street, the City Office of Strategic Planning in 920 City Hall, the NFTA office at 181 Ellicott Street or the Public Library. The public comment period will extend past this event, and end on May 16th. Written comments can be directed to Kimberley Minkel of the NFTA at 181 Ellicott Street, Buffalo, NY 14203.