Limited Thruway reopening at 3 p.m. for essential travel only
For information on road conditions, call 511
State emergency operations center still monitoring situation
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today held a storm briefing in Western New York on the current winter storm conditions, where in some areas there are seven feet of lake effect snow already on the ground after several days of extreme weather. The Thruway and other roads will have a limited reopening at 3 p.m. for essential travel only, so vehicles can move out of the region, ensure necessary supplies can be delivered, and snow machinery can do its work.
Recovery efforts are underway, with the state enlisting a larger collection of snow removal equipment in the region than ever before.
"We have gone through the worst in terms of snowfall, and now we are turning to snow removal," Cuomo said. "To remove the snow, we have to remove vehicles, which need a place to go. Therefore, we are going to start lifting driving bans for essential purposes only. When we are lifting these bans, we are not signifying that all is fine. The opening is to move vehicles that are blocking the roads. If at all possible, please stay in your homes."
The governor also discussed the consequences of the warm weather coming to the area in the next few days, which make the region especially prone to significant flooding due to the extremely large amount of snow. While the specifics of this are not predictable, the state is taking every precaution to prepare for such a case.
The governor declared a state of emergency Tuesday night for affected counties so residents can receive as much assistance as possible. He also instructed the National Guard, the New York State Police, and all state agencies help affected residents and roadways. State offices remain closed in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Franklin, Genesee, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego and Wyoming counties.
Road Openings for Essential Travel
The following roads will open at 3 p.m. for essential travel purposes only, such as removing cars from the roads, delivering medication or health care, providing food to grocery stores, and to enable snow removal equipment to do its job:
State Plows and Snow Removal Equipment Deployed to Region
The state has assembled nearly 1,600 personnel and 750 pieces of heavy equipment including 538 plows, 114 loaders, 60 dump trucks and 30 snowblowers to continue to address snow removal. The New York State Department of Transportation has a total of 422 snowplows, 1,044 operators and supervisors, 36 loaders and 17 large snowblowers working on recovery from this storm. The department is fully stocked with road salt and has also activated private contractors to assist in clearing snow from roadways. Private contractors have committed 50 loaders, 40 large dump trucks, 12 tow vehicles and 220 personnel to assist in the cleanup. Three large snow blowers from the Connecticut Department of Transportation, along with supporting vehicles and 22 operators and supervisors arrived last night and are being deployed. The New York State Department of Transportation is also preparing to stage 40 large pumps in the event of flooding.
The New York State Thruway Authority has a total of 284 plow operators and supervisors working on the storm recovery, with 116 plow trucks, 24 front-end loaders, five tri-axle dump trucks, four large snowblowers and 25,000 tons of salt. In addition, 12 operators, six large snowblowers, and two mechanics from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission are assisting the Thruway with snow-clearing operations. The Thruway is being aided by private contractors who have supplied 15 tri-axle dump trucks, 14 operators, four front-end loaders, four Euclid Rock trucks, and one dozer. State Police have 66 4-by-4 vehicles, six ATVs, four snowmobiles, and three four-wheel drive, heavy-duty armored vehicles assigned to storm response efforts.
Deployment of National Guard
More than 500 New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen will be on duty today conducting snow-removal missions, traffic-control missions, and assisting law enforcement and emergency medical personnel movement missions.
Soldiers have been clearing paths at disabled residents' group homes at the request of the office for persons with developmental disabilities, and that mission will continue. New York Army National Guard military police soldiers have also been assisting local law enforcement by conducting health and wellness visits in Boston and Clarence to check on local residents. Sixty soldiers will continue to remove snow from the roof of the Eden Heights Nursing Home in West Seneca.
Equipment on hand today will include two large Air Guard runway clearance snowblowers, 17 Bobcats, two D-8 bulldozers, 13 front-end loaders, 34 dump trucks, and 50 Humvees. More equipment will be deployed as required. Troops clearing rooftops also have been equipped with small snowblowers.
Soldiers assigned to the mission are from the 153rd Troop Command and 152nd Engineer Company from Buffalo, the 827th Engineer Company in Horseheads, the 1152nd Engineer Company from Kingston, the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion in Rochester, the 2nd Squadron 101st Cavalry (which has elements in Buffalo, Jamestown and Niagara Falls), the 105th Military Police Company in Buffalo and the 42nd Infantry Division.
Air National Guard Airmen supporting the mission are assigned to the 107th Airlift Wing at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, and the 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia.
New York Army National Guard tractor-trailers will be in use today providing long-haul transportation support to the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and other state agencies by transporting supplies from across New York to the Buffalo area.
The following driving bans are in effect in Erie County: the Town of Elma, Town of Alden, Village of Alden, Town of Lancaster, Village of Lancaster, Town of Marilla, Town of Orchard Park, Town of West Seneca, City of Lackawanna and the City of Buffalo (South Buffalo only).
The following driving bans are in effect for Genesee County: the towns of Alexander, Le Roy (excluding the Village of Le Roy), Bethany and Pavilion, Darien and Pembroke (including the Village of Corfu), due to a high number of abandoned vehicles and impassable roadways. No travel inside the towns of Alexander, Bethany, Darien, Penbroke, (including the Village of Corfu) and Pavilion, is permitted with the exception of emergency services.
As roads start to open, motorists should be advised heavy equipment will still be operating to remove snow. Please drive with caution.
Due to the current condition of roads, the below road closures will be in effect until further notice. Driving on these roads is strictly prohibited and is unsafe for workers clearing the roadway:
Public Transportation Delays and Cancellations
The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority south towns bus service is still suspended due to continuing snow and impassable roads. Buses are still operating in the City of Buffalo and in the north towns. The following Metro routes are not running at this time: 14, 15, 16, 27, 36, 42, 69, 70, 72, 74, 75 and 76. All other routes are operating, but may be running late.
Amtrak is continuing to restore service, running modified Empire Service schedules west of Albany today. Full Empire Service schedules are expected tomorrow. Chicago Lake Shore Limited also resumes today. Amtrak yesterday restored service to route 63 and 64, the Maple Leaf, between New York City and Toronto.
As of 11 a.m., there were about 1,053 New Yorkers in the region without power, down from 9,000-plus earlier in the week. To help with this, the New York State Public Service Commission will extend its call center helpline hours, which will continue Friday until 7:30 p.m., as needed, to assist consumers in storm preparation and response efforts. The helpline number is 1-800-342-3377.
Public Service Commission staff will continue to monitor the utilities efforts throughout the storm and during the restoration period. The electric utilities are prepared to respond to power disruptions throughout the event.