Niagara Gazette — All Steve Mays wanted for Christmas was more traffic in front of his shop.
On Friday, he got his gift a bit early.
The owner of Steve's Automotive on Main Street thanked city officials for finally putting a stop to one of his customers' biggest concerns - construction barriers that have been located at the intersection of Main and Ontario Avenue for years.
"It's been a long time," a relieved Mays said. "This is a great day. I got a call at 7 o'clock this morning reassuring me that this ribbon-cutting was going to take place and couldn't be happier. We've been almost four years without a road in front of my business and it's a testament to my business that we're still here and survived. My customers, I've got to thank them all for being so loyal and dodging barriers and getting to me."
Mays watched as workers from Mark Cerrone, Inc., the contractor that oversaw the reconstruction of the section of north Main Street between Ontario and Bath avenues, removed the barriers, re-opening the intersection to traffic.
Several of the first few motorists driving by immediately afterward honked in appreciation as city officials gathered for the occasion cheered them on.
"This is a day we waited for for a very long time," said Mayor Paul Dyster who took part in a ribbon-cutting at the site Friday afternoon.
The removal of the barriers at the intersection marked a significant sign of progress on another project as well - the ongoing development of the city's new Niagara Falls Intermodal Station project. City officials said phase two of that project is now complete, including demolition of 100-year-old railroad bridges that ran above the section of North Main leading to Lewiston Road. As part of the project, a new bridge structure was realigned and elevated to carry passengers across the international bridge and into the city's new Amtrak train station which will be built near the historic customhouse building off Whirlpool Street.
In addition to the bridge reconfiguration, the portion of Main where the project was focused received new roadway, sidewalks and lighting stanchions.
The third phase of the train station project involves construction of the train station itself. That portion of the project, estimated at a cost of $26 million, is expected to begin sometime next year with completion anticipated by 2014. City Planner Tom DeSantis said he expects a bid package for the project to be presented for city council approval in a matter of weeks.
"There's a whole lot of work going on in this end of Niagara Falls," Dyster said.
Dyster also offered some welcome news for long-suffering residents and business owners who have been impacted by delays in the reconstruction of Lewiston Road.
Dyster said the section previously being rebuilt by the Buffalo contracting firm Man O' Trees is now the responsibility of Accadia Contracting, which city officials hired to take over the job earlier this year. Dyster said the project is not yet complete, but the road has been re-opened to traffic. He said it is anticipated that the entire effort - which is now several years in the making - should be finished by next year.
"We're basically done with the road closure," Dyster said.