Thruway Authority Prepares for Snow

December 26, 2012 Updated Dec 26, 2012 at 8:03 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

December 26, 2012 Updated Dec 26, 2012 at 8:03 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - With a nasty winter storm moving across Western New York, at 6:00 on Wednesday evening, Governor Andrew Cuomo activated the State Emergency Operations Center.

The center will coordinator emergency response with the state police, Department of Transportation and Thruway Authority.

The Thruway Authority is also ready for the storm -- even prepared to shutdown major highways if needed.

Gates are posted at every on-ramp across the 90 and 190 in the toll-free section of the Thruway in the Buffalo area.

The gates have not been used before, but were installed after a travel nightmare in December of 2010. A massive storm left hundreds of cars stranded for more than 30 hours along a nine-mile stretch of the Thruway.

The Thruway Authority was criticized for allowing motorists to access the highway under such hazardous travel conditions.

The gates work similar to railroad crossings. If a part of the Thruway needs to be shutdown, employees and state police will spring into action.

Tom Pericak, the Division Director for the New York State Thruway Authority, explains "If all lanes are blocked due to an accident, jack-knife, whatever the case may be, we'll move immediately with the state police to close upstream of that accident and start diverting traffic off."

"If it's going to be a long term event," Pericak says, "we'll start closing the on-ramps to prevent people from getting stuck."