Main Street’s about to see something it hasn’t seen in 30 years, and Buffalo’s about to see something it hasn’t seen in 65 years.
For the first time since 1985, vehicular traffic will return to the 600 block of Main Street in downtown Buffalo. NFTA Commissioner Bonita Durand made the proclamation at the board meeting on Thursday. At 1pm on Friday a brief ceremony will open the gates to cars once again concluding a years-long process to re-open the Theater District to the very thing short-sighted urban planners scrambled to prevent in the early 80s.
NFTA Director Kimberly Minkel presented the conditions of an agreement reached with the City of Buffalo that all commissioners ratified, (though Commissioner Adam Perry abstained):
the NFTA is indemnified from liability arising from vehicular accidents on the shared roadway
the NFTA has priority over vehicular traffic and can restrict cars from right and left -hand turns if trains are delayed more than five minutes
a 15 mile per hour speed limit will be in effect
and towing operator wishing to do business on the 600 block of Main Street must receive training from the NFTA to make them aware of the operation of the catenary poles
the NFTA reserves the ability to close the street at any time for maintenance or repair
Just last week, The Public featured a historical photograph of the last time cars shared the streets with light rail in Buffalo. That was 1950.
The commissioners also passed a new CBA for its police force, raising their pay 10.25 percent through 2019 in exchange for a 10 percent contribution to their health insurance premium for all 71 current officers. Minkel lauded their “excellent work” before the agreement was passed unanimously. The NFTA police force had been operating without a contract since 2011.