BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A state project to block entrance ramps when the Skyway is closed has started moving forward, but a hardware shortage will cause the project to miss its deadline.
Following blistering criticism from drivers who got trapped on the New York State Thruway by a December, 2010 snowstorm, Thruway officials installed traffic control gates the following year to keep cars off the mainline I-90 when the Thruway is closed by winter weather.
Earlier this month, State Department of Transportation officials said they would have the traffic control gates in place by the end of October. Right now it seems that’s not going to happen, although work did start, Wednesday, at the Church Street entrance ramp, downtown.
“Essentially they are called emergency gate arms, and we are installing them at 9 locations,” said NYSDOT spokesperson Susan Surdej. The mechanical arms are similar to the gates installed along the Thruway.
Eight of the 9 emergency gates are being installed along Route 219, to divert inbound traffic away from the Skyway. The first control arm is being installed at Church Street, so when the Skyway is closed, the gate will keep traffic off the Skyway, rather than Buffalo police.
“It is just to free up those emergency services–especially the police–during times of emergencies like snow events, when we need to close the Skyway. So we won’t have to have police cars sitting at the base, we will actually have a gate arm that goes down.”
But the DOT’s plans have hit a snag. All the control arms were supposed to be up and operable by this weekend, but Surdej told us, anchor bolts–the fasteners that hold the arm assembly to the concrete base–are on back order.
“We have not received all the anchor bolts for all the locations, which is why there is a slight delay. We anticipate getting them very shortly, and we still anticipate having all the locations completed by Thanksgiving,” said Surdej.
But Surdej points out, DOT did get the anchors for the gate at Church Street, “and hopefully the Skyway, which is our first installation, will be completed within a week. Then we will move on to the 8 installations along 219.”
Buffalo’s Common Council is calling on the DOT to take control of all the ramps along the Skyway, and the maintenance of the street lights, because it is a state highway, Route 5.
Surdej said DOT officials are considering the city’s request, but no decision has been made yet.