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Highway construction season gets under way, but complaints are few

Thursday's rush-hour traffic moved surprisingly well through the maze of detours and lane restrictions that marked the beginning of the 2010 highway construction season.

The detours affect mainly the LaSalle Expressway and the Niagara Expressway (I-190) in Niagara Falls and a short access ramp to the Niagara Thruway in the Town of Tonawanda.

Lane restrictions are in effect at the interchange between the Youngmann Memorial Highway (I-290) and the Niagara Thruway in the Town of Tonawanda.

Some restrictions were put in place earlier this week, but the detours in Niagara Falls began at 6 a.m. Thursday.

With some access ramps closed and detour signs in place, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation said she heard no serious complaints about Thursday morning's commute along those routes.

The afternoon rush hour, which tends to be more congested, also worked well. Traffic signals on city streets along the principal detour routes were well coordinated, and they caused little delay.

For most motorists, the detours and lane restrictions added only a couple of minutes to their trips.

"As drivers get used to the new traffic patterns, they will find alternate routes to avoid the detours," said Susan Surdej, public information officer for the Buffalo Region of the state Department of Transportation. "If there were going to be any major problems, I would have expected them to show up on the first day," she said.

The detours and lane restrictions will remain in place until the end of the construction season in November. Some of them will be re-established for next year's construction season for work that cannot be finished this year.

Oakgrove Construction of Elma is doing the work for the DOT under two separate contracts totaling $24.7 million. It consists mainly of widening or rebuilding access ramps between the Youngmann Memorial Highway and the Niagara Thruway in Erie County, and between the LaSalle Expressway and the Niagara Expressway in Niagara County.

Since the detour routes require the use of city streets, the DOT reminds motorists to obey the posted speed limits along those routes in addition to the reduced speed limits in construction zones.

e-mail: rbaldwin@buffnews.com

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