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Transit Drive-In Theatre in Town of Lockport seeks Planning Board approval for fifth screen

LOCKPORT – In hopes of relieving traffic congestion as well as pleasing customers, Transit Drive-In Theatre is seeking permission to erect a fifth movie screen at its South Transit Road location.

Timothy W. Arlington of Apex Consulting, who presented the idea to the Town of Lockport Planning Board on Tuesday, said the new screen would be used to show the same movie as Screen 1, which is usually a popular new release.

Sellouts for summer blockbusters are one of the reasons that traffic backs up along South Transit/Route 78. Transit Drive-In, owned by Rick Cohen, has four screens and generally shows double features on all four, with the outer screens showing movies that are a few weeks old. But ticket office manager Debbie Kunkle said demand for big attractions sometimes outstrips the available space.

Screen 1 has parking for about 250 vehicles. The new fifth screen, showing the same movie, would add 200 to 225 more spaces.

When drivers find out a main feature is sold out, there often is a debate in the car as to what to do, causing traffic problems, Kunkle said.

Kunkle said the drive-in will have hand-held ticket payment devices this year, with an increased number of ticket workers walking along the line and selling admissions, all in hopes of moving things along.

“It’s going to improve the traffic situation, because we’ll be able to get them to drive in quicker and get them parked,” Kunkle said.

Screens 2 and 3 have 175 to 200 parking spaces each, and Screen 4 has about 225. “Those screens never get sold out. They’re at best 50 percent, so we still have capacity for restrooms, capacity for concessions,” Arlington said.

There is only one entrance to the grounds, although there is an exit-only driveway to the north. The expansion plan calls for a second exit near the south end, where the new screen would be built on 6.7 acres..

Town Planner Andrew C. Reilly warned that the state Department of Transportation “is not going to give you that new entrance on a state highway unless you can prove you’re going to improve the traffic situation.”

Also, the new screen would be right across the road from North Buffalo Suburban Airport, a private airfield. A warning light probably would be needed on the new screen, and the Federal Aviation Administration would have to approve the construction in the runway protection zone.