(WBEN) The NYS Thruway is warning of the chance that it could close stretches around Western New York Monday evening, and has called in extra road crews to take care of any heavy snows.
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The Thruway's Tom Pericak
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"There is a probability at some point tonight we could close the thruway on The Erie Section," says Tom Pericak, The Thruway's Division Director.
"... when you have zero visibility and you can't see where you are going and you get a car off the road, and with the projected wind chills in the minus thirty to minus forty range, that's a very dangerous situation, " Pericak says.
The authority is trying to avoid a repeat of troubles it had in the winter of 2010, when traffic continued to pour onto the Thruway at a time when heavy snows stranded hundreds, some for days.
Pericak says they have been preparing for the heaviest snows.
" We've been busy this week bringing in extra equipment from our Syracuse division.. Right now we just continue to monitor the forecast and make sure we have extra equipment on the road. ," Pericak said Monday morning.
"Our first priority is life safety of our patrons and our workers so that no matter how much equipment we have and how good the roads may be, there are times when it gets down to zero visibility, and you can't see, " Pericak adds.
Since the December 2010 storm, the Thruway Authority has installed gates at various exits to make it easier to close the Thruway section by section.
Locations for ramp-control gates along I-90 include:
• William Street (westbound and eastbound)
• Cleveland Drive (westbound)
• Ridge Road (both eastbound on-ramps)
Locations for ramp-control gates along I-190 include:
• Griswold Street (southbound)
• Smith Street (southbound)
• Washington Street (southbound)
• Louisiana Street (southbound)
The Thruway Authority also installed movable barriers at eight locations between Interchange 50 (Niagara Falls) and Interchange 55 (Springville, Route 219). Intended for use during an "all lanes" closure incident in either direction, these movable median barriers will be used to U-turn traffic to clear any blocked lanes rather than leaving vehicles stranded on the roadway.
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BUFFALO NY
713 AM EST MON JAN 6 2014
...VERY COLD AIR TO PRESENT BLACK ICE HAZARD...
VERY COLD AIR WILL OVERSPREAD THE REGION FOLLOWING THE PASSAGE OF
A STRONG COLD FRONT THIS MORNING. THE TEMPERATURE HAS FALLEN BELOW
FREEZING ACROSS WESTERN NEW YORK AND HAS RESULTED IN THE FORMATION
OF BLACK ICE AND FROZEN SLUSHY PATCHES...ESPECIALLY ON UNTREATED
AND SPARSELY TRAVELLED ROADS. BLACK ICE AND FROZEN SLUSH WILL POSE
A DRIVING HAZARD TODAY AS THE TEMPERATURE CONTINUES TO FALL
THROUGH THE DAY. DRIVERS SHOULD EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION AND BE
WARY OF BLACK ICE...ESPECIALLY ON BRIDGES AND OVERPASSES.