Erie County announced updates to the driving ban Monday as cleanup continued from the deadly blizzard that hit Western New York.
County Executive Mark Poloncarz said that, as of late Monday afternoon, the driving ban was still in effect for the cities of Buffalo and Lackawanna as well as the towns of Amherst and Cheektowaga. He noted, however, that the entire county remains under a State of Emergency.
However, the Town of Amherst announced at 4:30 p.m. that its travel ban would shift to an advisory at 7 p.m. A 24-hour parking ban remains on all town streets, however.
Additionally, Poloncarz said late Monday that the Buffalo ban would continue through Tuesday but the edicts for Lackawanna and Cheektowaga would be reexamined Tuesday morning.
At about 3 p.m., Poloncarz announced that the driving ban in Evans had shifted to a driving advisory. At 5 p.m., he reported that the Town and Village of Hamburg, the Village of Blasdell and the Town of Clarence also had lifted their bans in favor of an advisory.
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At about 12:30 p.m., Poloncarz announced the driving ban in West Seneca had been downgraded to a driving/travel advisory.
Driving advisories also remain in other Erie County municipalities no longer under a travel ban.
The Orchard Park Police Department said at about 6:30 a.m. Monday that the driving ban in the town and village of Orchard Park was lifted. A travel advisory, however, remained until further notice.
Even though many areas in Erie County are no longer under the ban, officials urged caution from motorists.
The Town of Tonawanda, for instance, lifted its driving ban at 7 a.m. Monday, but advised anyone who “has to go out” to “exercise caution on the roads, especially as they approach and go through intersections.”
The updated driving ban map comes after officials Sunday said they would revisit the ban early Monday.
It comes as no surprise that the driving ban in Buffalo remains for people who are not essential workers. Poloncarz said he didn’t expect the driving ban in Buffalo to be lifted Monday as crews continue to work to clean up the blizzard that stranded hundreds and left thousands without heat.
Gov. Kathy Hochul late Sunday said officials would like to see people stay home another 24 hours.
Travel bans were lifted early Sunday in Genesee and Niagara counties. And Genesee County early Monday afternoon rescinded its travel advisory, noting “all roads are clear and open.”
A travel advisory will remain in place in Niagara County, including in the cities of Lockport, Niagara Falls and North Tonawanda, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office announced early Sunday.
Motorists are urged to use “extreme caution” if choosing to drive due to the continuing challenging conditions.
Authorities urge the public not to travel in areas where a travel ban is in effect. Conditions outside are life-threatening, and emergency vehicles have been getting stuck on the road.
We don’t know why, but DPW and law enforcement are reporting people are attempting to drive this morning, violating the Driving Ban, and are getting stuck, adding to the problems.
Unless you are emergency personnel responding to the blizzard, do not drive. It’s as simple as that.
— Mark Poloncarz (@markpoloncarz) December 24, 2022
A ban bars travel for anyone except emergency responders. Under a travel advisory, no unnecessary travel is advised.
The Thruway remains closed to all traffic from Exit 46 to the Pennsylvania state line. The entire I-190 and I-290 also has been shut down.
“The Thruway will remain closed until further notice,” Hochul said about 12:30 p.m. Monday. “We’re assessing right now what the conditions will be over the next few hours and decide when we can get it open safely.”
Traffic to Canada on the Peace Bridge remains closed, while the Rainbow Bridge and Lewiston-Queenston Bridge have reopened, according to NITTEC.
These roads also remain closed, according to NITTEC:
• Route 219 from Peters Road in Ashford to Buffalo
• Route 400 from I-90 in West Seneca to Olean Road in Aurora
• Route 5 from I-190 in Buffalo to Big Tree Road in Hamburg
• Route 93 from Route 5 to Tonawanda Creek Road in Newstead.
• I-990 between I-290 and Millersport Highway.
• I-190 between the mainline Thruway and Buffalo Avenue in Niagara Falls.
• I-290, the entire length from the mainline Thruway to I-190.
News staff reporter Barb O’Brien contributed to this report.