Closure Gates Installed Along I-86 Part Of Safety Improvements

Closure gates have recently been installed at the entrances of Interstate 86 on-ramps at various locations in Chautauqua County. The gates, part of a four-year state DOT safety improvement campaign, are designed to prevent traffic from entering the Southern Tier Expressway during emergencies such as snowstorms. P-J photo by Eric Tichy

BEMUS POINT — Several closure gates installed along a stretch of Interstate 86 are the latest in a series of federal- and state-funded infrastructure improvement projects scheduled for Chautauqua County.

The gates can be lowered to block traffic from entering the Southern Tier Expressway during emergencies such as snowstorms, flooding or bad car crashes. The devices — which are being installed statewide as part of a four-year safety initiative of the state Department of Transportation — have red and white reflective stripes with some including flashing red lights.

Frank Cirillo, state DOT regional director, said the installation of closure gates comes down to safety for motorists and first responders.

“Safety drives everything,” Cirillo said. “These gates help minimize the use of people at these locations. That’s police, fire and DOT resources that could now be used somewhere else.”

When I-86 is closed due to snow, officers are placed at on-ramps to prevent traffic from getting on the expressway and possibly stuck. The gates will allow police departments to use officers elsewhere during the snow emergencies and limit risk of having personnel at dangerous on-ramps where visibility is reduced.

The gates have recently been installed at exits in Bemus Point, Ellery and Findley Lake, with more scheduled this year.