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It's finally here: Spring, otherwise known as construction season

You thought the winter was long.

It was. But before we could catch our breath, we charged right into construction season, where getting from here to there like usual may take a little longer.

Southtowns residents learned that the hard way Tuesday morning, when their trip into Buffalo slowed to a crawl on Route 5 in Buffalo because of rehabilitation of the Skyway.

They've heard for weeks that the road would be down to two inbound lanes in the morning and two outbound lanes in the afternoon, but Tuesday was the first day for driving on the "wrong" side of the road. And traffic slowed to a crawl the closer it got to Buffalo. With the inability to exit onto the Niagara Thruway or Seneca/Pearl Street, all motorists were forced to go to the Church Street exit.

"It probably was about as we expected," said Susan Surdej, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, adding, "We're going to be making some tweaks to the detour."

The DOT will implement a truck detour during the morning drive time, because a lot of trucks were bottle-necking at the end of the Skyway at Church Street and slowing traffic, she said. The state also is looking at signal phasing and timing, and it will implement push buttons for pedestrians along Church Street to allow the signal to operate more efficiently.

Construction has begun affecting traffic on the Skyway. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

"It's not something we design and walk away from," Surdej said. "If we see something's not working as efficiently as possible, we're going to do something to help that along. I promise it will get better."

It's no different in the northtowns, where two bridges over I-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. The on-ramp from Colvin Boulevard is closed during the construction.

Surdej said motorists are now used to the ramp being closed, and the DOT expects to implement lane crossovers this month. But she said Youngmann drivers are used to cross-overs from previous construction projects.

The Youngmann Highway and Skyway lane closures will take place over two summers.

There is other work on surrounding highways that should be completed this summer.

• On the Kensington Expressway: The railing along the retaining walls from Delevan Avenue to Florida Street and from Riley Street to Dodge Street will be replaced.

• On the Thruway: Pavement resurfacing will take place in West Seneca from Route 219 to the Lackawanna toll barrier. Bridges over Smokes Creek, Seneca Street, Cazenovia Creek and Potters Corners Road and Norfolk Southern Railroad will be replaced.

• Bridges over Cayuga Road, Wehrle Drive, Ellicott Creek Bridge and Transit Road will be painted.

• Various bridges in Cheektowaga will be repaired, and the bridge at Exit 57 over Camp Road will be removed.

• The remaining Grand Island toll booths will be removed in Tonawanda, and there will be maintenance on the South Grand Island bridge.

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