Traffic would be rerouted to Route 31 in an emergency
Construction on the Thruway will resume between exits 39 and 40 this week, and that may create a headache for Route 31 and the Jordan-Elbridge communities.
The New York State Thruway Authority announced the $128 million total reconstruction project that began last fall would resume April 6, and would involve repaving and rebuilding the 15-mile stretch in 5-mile sections, rehabilitating four bridges, safety improvements, installation of traffic monitoring cameras and improvements to the Warners Travel Plaza. Throughout the project, traffic will be shifted, but lanes in both directions will remain open.
Under normal circumstances, the Jordan-Elbridge community should remain relatively unaffected by the project - unless a severe collision or other situation forces Thruway traffic to the area's Primary Detour Route, part of which includes Route 31 through Elbridge.
The Thruway Authority met several times with local public safety officials and tow truck companies prior to construction to address concerns related to the project, said Richard Garrabrant, director of the Thruway's Syracuse Division.
Though the detour route was laid out years ago, it was important to have local emergency services up to speed on what would be happening on the Thruway throughout the project and to be coordinated on how different organizations would respond to emergencies.
Jordan Fire Chief Doug Milton expressed concerns at a recent Jordan Village Board meeting that Route 31 is not equipped to handle the volume of traffic that the Thruway experiences on a regular basis, and that the Jordan Fire Department would be the first responder to emergency situations that may occur during detours on Route 31.
Garrabrant noted that in the Syracuse division of the Thruway, which stretches from Rochester to Herkimer, traffic is rerouted to a Primary Detour Route about once or twice a year.
"It's rare," Garrabrant said. He couldn't say how many times during the project this particular route may be used.
"We hope not at all," he said. "It's an insurance policy, to make sure we're prepared, we're rehearsed."
Aside from the possibility of traffic congestion in the J-E area, the Thruway project will also impact the community in a more positive way.
Garrabrant said the construction will create more than 100 local jobs and fuel the local economy.
He encouraged motorists using the Thruway to be prepared for the construction when traveling between interchanges 39 and 40.