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Thruway closing; crews prepared to battle winter storm

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Chris Caya/WBFO News
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Given the severe weather that is moving in to the region, officials in charge of maintaining the region's highways are advising motorists to avoid all unnecessary travel. Governor Cuomo announced Monday that the Thruway will be closing to commercial traffic between Lackawanna Exit 55 and Exit 61 in Ripley at the state line, as of 3 p.m.  Then, at 8 p.m., all traffic will be detoured off the highway between Exit 50 (I-290) in Williamsville and the state line.

New York State Thruway Authority Division Director Tom Pericak says to help keep the Thruway clear, snow-fighting equipment from Syracuse has been moved to the Buffalo area. 

"With that, along with all the equipment we have here in Western New York, I think we're ready to go, equipment-wise," Pericak said Monday. "From a preparedness standpoint, we're all set."

Pericak says there is plenty of salt and magnesium chloride on hand to melt icy roads.

New York Department of Transportation Regional Director Darrell Kaminski says more than 170 plow trucks are ready to go. Kaminski says the DOT's Emergency Operations Center is now open 24/7 and mechanics are on duty around the clock to keep snow plows on the road.

"We've set up our strategy to move resources quickly to areas where we're having the most difficulty," Kaminski said.

Kaminski says people need to treat the storm as the "significant event" that it is and stay off the roads.