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Transit Drive-In’s new driveway opens not a moment too soon

LOCKPORT – Moviegoers who are “Finding Dory” in Lockport this week began finding a new way to get into the Transit Drive-In, after a monster lineup on the road last week.

The drive-in yielded to the state Department of Transportation and this week moved its marquee to a new entrance leading to a service road parallel to South Transit Road. The hope is that this will reduce traffic backups.

Moving the marquee is being done in conjunction with the construction of a fifth screen at the theater, which is now slated to open July 8.

The DOT wouldn’t allow theater owner Rick Cohen to cut a new entrance into South Transit Road, Route 78, unless he installed a longer entrance road to take more waiting traffic off the shoulder

Cohen said that the tie-ups were severe last weekend, when the theater was showing “Finding Dory” on three of its four screens and still had to turn away hundreds of customers for the animated blockbuster.

“We sold out ‘Finding Dory,’ showing it on three screens, 1,000 parking spaces, by 9,” he said. “By the time it sold out, there was probably a two-mile line stretching down Transit Road all the way to Millersport (Highway). In the other direction, it was back to Rapids Road. All those cars in the line, they’re not getting in. We told people on the shoulder of the road it was sold out. We sent another person with a megaphone to talk to people on the median,” Cohen said.

Cohen is trying to let people know via social media what’s going on. “We do everything we can. From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., I was doing updates on parking every 15 minutes on my Facebook page to try to inform people whether they want to wait in line,” he said.

The new driveway opened Tuesday, and that was just in time. “We had some really big crowds on Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday was a record-breaking crowd for a non-holiday weekday,” he said.

Wednesday, the theater admitted 600 vehicles. “We’ve got a really hot movie right now, and the weather is fantastic,” Cohen said.

This weekend, the drive-in will offer “Finding Dory” on only two screens because of contractual commitments to “Independence Day: Resurgence” and “The Shallows.”

“You can’t kick all the studios off the screen and just show ‘Finding Dory,’” Cohen said. He added that if he had the fifth screen operating, he would use it for “Finding Dory,” but construction hasn’t gone as quickly as he had hoped.

On July 8, the new screen is to open with “The Secret Life of Pets,” Cohen said.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com