Southtowns commuters had a relatively easy winter driving into Buffalo over the Skyway.
The summer may be a different story.
That's when parts of the Skyway will be closed for a $29 million bridge rehab that will take two summers to complete.
It might not be that bad for the bulk of motorists who drive into the city every morning and go home every afternoon, but it will be a little confusing at first.
• During the morning commute, the inbound Skyway (Route 5) will be open, while the outbound will be closed.
• During the afternoon commute, outbound lanes will be open, and the inbound lanes will be closed.
• The road will be closed in both directions from 3 to 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. to noon on weekdays when the switch in traffic directions is being made.
When the lanes are closed, traffic will be rerouted to local streets.
The state Department of Transportation is rehabilitating three bridges: the Skyway, the Pearl Street ramp and the ramp over Upper Terrace. The preventive maintenance will include repairs to the bridge decks and substructure as well as structural steel painting.
More than 40,000 vehicles travel every day on the mile-long Skyway, which is 110 feet high, connecting the Southtowns and Outer Harbor to downtown Buffalo, the Canadian border and the Thruway.
Work is expected to start the last week of April, according to state DOT spokeswoman Susan Surdej. A public meeting is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. April 18 at the Gateway Building, 3556 Lake Shore Blvd., Blasdell, to explain the changes.
The project will take two summers to complete, although the road will be open in both directions next winter.
The inbound traffic will be closed for construction first, with alternating traffic using the outbound Skyway. The outbound Skyway will be closed in the second stage, with alternating traffic using the inbound portion of the road.
Crews have been erecting traffic signals along Fuhrmann Boulevard as part of the detour.
Detoured outbound traffic from Buffalo will enter the Niagara Thruway at the Church Street ramp and exit at the Louisiana Street ramp, to Ohio Street to Fuhrmann Boulevard and back onto westbound Route 5.
Traffic headed into Buffalo will be diverted to Ohio Street, then proceed to Louisiana Street to South Park Avenue to Hamburg Street to the Niagara Thruway northbound to the Church Street exit. Drivers looking for the Niagara Thruway southbound will take Ohio Street to Louisiana to the Niagara Thruway southbound entrance.
Southtowners aren't the only ones headed for commuting headaches this summer. Two bridges over Interstate 290 at the Colvin Boulevard on-ramp will be replaced over the next two years, reducing traffic to one lane on the Youngmann Highway in each direction at that spot.
Skyway closed in both directions:
• 3 to 5 a.m. Monday – Friday
• 11 a.m. to noon Monday – Friday
• 5 to 11 a.m. Monday – Friday
• Noon to 3 a.m. Monday – Thursday (For example, outbound will be open from noon Monday to 3 a.m. Tuesday.)
• Noon Friday – 3 a.m. Monday