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State Thruway Authority officials are emphasizing that two lanes of traffic will be maintained in both directions on the Niagara Thruway throughout a $72.3 million repair project scheduled to begin Monday, weather permitting.

The work, which will last two construction seasons, includes a 4.3-mile section of the Niagara Thruway between the Ontario Street exit and the South Grand Island bridges, and a 1.3-mile section of the downtown Niagara Thruway, the I-190, between Elm and Niagara streets.

There are no plans to close any stretches of the Niagara Thruway. The southbound side will be rebuilt this year and the northbound next year.

Traffic in both directions will be rerouted to the northbound side this year and then switched to the southbound side in 1999.

Several ramps will be closed during the project: four southbound downtown ramps will be shut down, beginning with the Church Street on-ramp Monday.

The other ramps, scheduled to be closed from June through November, are: the Virginia Street on-ramp (Niagara Street interchange); the Skyway outbound off-ramp, and the Elm Street off-ramp.

The Skyway will remain open throughout the project.

In the other section of the project, southbound travelers will not be able to enter the I-190 at Sheridan Drive or River Road from May until December. Local detour routes will be marked. Those driving south also will not be able to exit onto Kenmore Avenue.

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