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Officials say gates, not police, should block Skyway ramps

Chris Caya/WBFO News

To keep police officers on duty during snow emergencies, elected officials want gates used for closing the Skyway.The state Department of Transportation recently installed one such gate at the Church Street entrance, but Sen. Timothy Kennedy says there are six other on-ramps that also need gates. Kennedy says he believes the move will come at a minimal cost and will save taxpayers in the long run.

Kennedy's office estimates police officers spent 58 hours over the 2013-2014 winter blocking off the Skyway.

"Those police officers had to be taken off of the neighborhoods and put, as human barriers, at the on-ramps. That puts public safety in the neighborhoods in jeopardy and is a cost for the city taxpayers for a state thoroughfare," Kennedy said Tuesday morning.

Mayor Byron Brown says the barrier arm recently installed on the Church Street on-ramp worked effectively during last month's snowstorm, but Brown says six other ramps had to be blocked by police.  

"We would prefer to have those police officers doing things that protect the health and safety of the residents of our community, as opposed to manning positions along the Skyway," Brown said.

Assemblyman Sean Ryan announced Tuesday that the State Thruway Authority and the State Department of Transportation have agreed to his request to hold post-storm assessment meetings in Buffalo.

"These meetings will allow the state to hear directly from local officials and will help to improve the state’s storm response in the future," Ryan said, in a statement.