The big plans for Main Street in Williamsville are being backed by some big bucks from the federal government.
Williamsville has been awarded $2.5 million in federal funds for its “Picture Main Street” initiative aimed at calming traffic and making the busy street more pedestrian- and business-friendly.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who came to Williamsville last summer to lend his support for the Main Street project, made the announcement Wednesday.
“In July, I urged federal agencies to help fund the Village of Williamsville ‘Picture Main Street’ project, and I am proud to announce that the Federal Highway Administration and New York State have done just that,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a prepared statement.
Schumer in December announced $800,000 for Williamsville to create a secondary business on East Spring Street, as part of the larger “Picture Main Street” plan.
The village – which is required to match the $2.5 million with $500,000 of its own money – now has more than half of the funding it needs to achieve its vision for Main Street.
Cost of the project is estimated at $6.7 million.
The $2.5 million is from the Federal Highway Administration and administered by the state Department of Transportation, which awarded the money to the village during this latest round of funding.
Williamsville Mayor Brian J. Kulpa was thrilled by Wednesday’s announcement and humbled that a plan the village began two years ago is getting such support.
“I think it’s a priority project for the community,” Kulpa said. “It’s something that’s going to have an economic impact, not only on the Town of Amherst but Erie County.”
“This is what we have to do,” the mayor said. “We have to reinvest in our historical center and the places that have made this area special.”
Main Street in the village is a major east-west corridor for commuters in Amherst and neighboring communities, but well known for its traffic congestion.
“Picture Main Street,” though, calls for upgrades to the village core in effort to “take back” the street from automobile traffic and make the village more walkable.
Plans include: extending sidewalks at each intersection to prevent drivers from cutting off pedestrians; installing a new type of traffic signal activated by pedestrians crossing in the middle of a block; installing “refuge islands” in Main Street’s turning lanes for pedestrians to cross traffic; and lowering the speed limit to 30 mph from 40 mph in some places.
The plan also seeks to create more interesting spaces for people to walk to, including pocket parks, gardens and a new village center along East Spring Street.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2015, Kulpa said.