Like many of you, I awoke on Jan. 9 to some snow and blowing wind. It wasn’t anything we hadn’t dealt with before. For many of us, after the 7-foot Snovember storm, it seemed like nothing. Because of the conditions, the roads were a little treacherous, plows hadn’t yet reached some roadways before commuters hit the streets, and everyone had to give themselves extra time to get to work. Nothing too extreme.
In addition, the Thruway was closed for the morning commute. It had closed at midnight in anticipation of the storm that started to hit Erie County in the early morning hours. However, by 9-10 a.m. the snow had moved out of most of our communities. Yet, the Thruway remained closed. I heard from several motorists that were forced onto secondary streets who said their commutes were extremely dangerous as a result. Around 1 p.m., as the sun was shining on the metro area, and myself and many residents were baffled that the Thruway had not reopened. Furthermore, not only was it not open but there were no updates on when it would be or why it was closed. Very slowly, sections of the Thruway reopened but not in time to save motorists traveling to the soutthowns from a nightmare of a commute home.
The entire length of the Thruway finally reopened on Jan. 10 after approximately 36 hours. This was several hours after the storm, which wasn’t even crippling to begin with, moved out of area. This situation was extremely frustrating, and to be honest, quite mindboggling. I believe the closure of the Thruway, with regard to the Jan. 9 snow fall, created a much more dangerous situation and that the extended length of the closure was completely unnecessary. I would have hoped that our Lieutenant Governor, a Hamburg native, would have been able to provide more insight into these decisions that she did. All in all, the State and Thruway Authority failed our region, shutdown commerce and overreacted in this situation. We have a lot of winter left ahead of us and I hope those in charge are better equipped to respond appropriately.
In discussions I have had recently with “Buffalonians,” we have questioned what happened to our region, the unofficial snow capital of the country. We used to pride ourselves on handling the snow, getting plows down streets quickly and efficiently, and not letting a few inches of snow bring daily life to a screeching halt.
We have great county and town DPW crews but unfortunately this winter there have been a few morning commutes that left drivers frazzled after plows didn’t touch the main routes soon enough. Hopefully going forward we can improve and keep roads clear of snow and ice as much as possible. Of course what most of us are hoping for is a short winter season, but in the likely case that doesn’t happen, all levels of government need to remain diligent.
If you ever have a question of concern about a county issue, please contact me at 858-8922 or joseph.Lorigo@erie.gov.