Truckers heading in all different directions of the country Monday ended up stranded in Cheektowaga.
“We are stuck,” said Martin Parker, of Columbus, Ohio, one of dozens of tractor-trailer drivers who pulled off the Thruway and parked at Jim’s Truck Plaza on Walden Avenue after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo closed a large portion of Interstate 90 to commercial traffic.
Parker didn’t even need Cuomo’s executive order to get off the road.
On his way from Syracuse to Buffalo, a strong gust of wind nearly blew his trailer into another vehicle.
“I almost got blew into a car that was beside me. When that happened to me, I had enough,” he said. “I was empty. That’s why it got me. I was coming here to get my load and go on to Chicago.”
Parker wasn’t even able to get his tractor-trailer loaded.
Instead, he found himself in Jim’s restaurant with a plate of chicken wings and some french fries, chatting with a group of other truck drivers.
Roger Ritchie, of Greenville, S. C., who was on his way to Toronto, also decided to pull over due to the high winds and nasty conditions.
“It’s a rollover looking for a place to happen,” said Ritchie. “I’ll see what it looks like tomorrow.”
Bob Bearfield, of Erie, Pa., almost made it home from Toronto, where he delivered plumbing supplies earlier, but the driving ban forced him off the road at about 5:30 p.m.
“I’m usually home every night, and this is my first day back on after being off for weeks on vacation,” he said.
The ban on commercial traffic took effect at 3 p.m. between the Lackawanna toll booths and the Ripley exit in Chautauqua County.
But none of the drivers complained about it, and some said they were grateful they didn’t have to be driving in these conditions.
“The smart thing they’re doing is shutting the Thruway down so then can get it cleaned off,” said Bearfield. Hundreds of trucks and cars were stranded overnight on the Thruway during a lake-effect storm in December 2010.
“This is very new to me. All I do is down South,” said Curts Bradley of Atlanta. “This is not my weather.”
He drove from San Antonio to deliver generators to a site in Lockport, then picked up a load of pipes, before arriving in Cheektowaga Sunday night.
He tried Monday morning to leave for his next stop in Houston, Texas, but had to turn back around.
“I probably won’t get there now until Thursday or Friday, if everything works out,” he said.