Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo this afternoon announced that parts of the Thruway in Western New York will be closed starting this afternoon due to extreme winter weather conditions.
Starting at 3 p.m., the Thruway between Exit 55 (Route 219/Lackawanna/Springville/Orchard Park/West Seneca) and Exit 61 (Shortman Road, Ripley) will be closed to commercial vehicles at 3 p.m. Starting at 8 p.m., all vehicles traveling westbound on the Thruway will be detoured off the roadway at Exit 50 (I-290 west), and all eastbound traffic will be detoured off at Exit 61.
• The state Emergency Operations Center will be opened at 8 p.m. based on the forecasted winter weather conditions in Buffalo and Western New York.
• City spokesman Mike DeGeorge said that the Skyway was closed because of an accident.
• Traffic maps are also showing extreme congestion on the 190 northbound in the City of Buffalo.
• Traffic was reported to be at a standstill on South Park Avenue and McKinley Avenue in South Buffalo.
• Lackawanna warned against unnecessary travel within the city limits.
The governor’s office said the Thruway closure is a precautionary measure due to an extraordinary winter weather event that is forecast to include 36 inches of snow in the coming day and a half, lake-effect snows in some areas up to four inches per hour, wind gusts up to 40 mph and wind chill temperatures as low as 40 degrees below zero. The Thruway will be reopened when conditions allow.
Motorists to Pennsylvania and points west should exit the Thruway at Exit 46 (Henrietta) to I-390 southbound and then to I-86 westbound into Pennsylvania. Eastbound travelers in Pennsylvania should exit at I-86 eastbound and then continue north on I-390 to the Thruway in Henrietta.
The Thruway Authority will have 66 plows and 188 operators available during the storm, including some plows and operators that have been brought in from other Thruway divisions. In addition to the large truck-mounted snow blowers, ATVs and snowmobiles based in Western New York and mobilized for storm response, additional snow blowers and snowmobiles have also been relocated to the area for use as needed during the storm.
The Thruway has nearly 25,000 tons of road salt on-hand in the Buffalo area, along with a significant quantity of liquid magnesium chloride, which is also used to treat roadways and prevent icy conditions.
The state Department of Transportation has 170 plows and 455 operators in the region to address storm conditions.
The Thruway Authority sent 10 plows and 11 operators to Long Island last week to assist DOT during the snowstorm there on Thursday and Friday. All of those plows and operators have returned to the Buffalo area.