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Traffic gridlock at Canalside has drivers snarling

A mammoth rubber ducky wasn’t the only thing mammoth downtown Saturday.

Four huge draw events also drew mammoth crowds into the city.

And while crowds are a great thing to see in the city, it’s not so great if you got stuck in the midst of all that traffic on Saturday night.

In addition to the crowds that poured in all day to see the rubber ducky at Canalside all day, huge crowds also came down to First Niagara Center to the Kanye West concert.

West’s concert started two hours behind schedule, and drivers reported being stuck in traffic for almost as long.

Buffalo Police Public Information Officer Michael DeGeorge said it was four events all going on at the same time in a small footprint that caused the problems.

He said Buffalo Police started adding extra officers Saturday afternoon to deal with traffic.

He said in addition to the Canalside and First Niagara Center crowds, there were also fireworks at a Bisons game that was letting out Saturday night and the Funk Fest at LaSalle Park.

“They were aware of the events and there’s a ton of traffic down there,” said DeGeorge. “We’ve been aware of it all day and have asked for regional manpower, but it’s a combination of four events and huge, huge overflow crowds. There’s no way to gauge that in advance.”

Matthew Penski said he took the Metro rail into downtown to dine at The Hatch at Erie Basin Marina, and he got to watch motorists stuck in traffic.

“Around 6:30 or 7, people were losing their marbles,” Penski said. “There were a lot of angry people. Pedestrians were directing traffic.”

At 10:15 p.m., a police officer was directing traffic on Marine Drive, near Canalside, allowing cars to crawl steadily along.

One driver, Amber Busch, of Lockport, said that there had been no officer there two hours earlier, when cars were gridlocked.

“We just came here for pizza,” Busch said, saying she was lucky to find a parking spot and avoid the worst of the traffic woes.

Kelly McCarthy, a driver with Buffalo Pedal Tours, said the congestion Saturday evening was the worst she’s seen downtown.

“I’ve done 100 of these tours and I’ve never seen it like this before,” McCarthy said.

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