Flooding closes 100 mile stretch of Thruway east of Syracuse

Traffic backed up near exit 34A Monday afternoon / photo: Jack Estabrook

The New York State Thruway has extended its road shutdown eastbound. Now, Interstate 90 between exit 34A (Syracuse/DeWitt) and exit 25A (Schenectady) is closed due to severe flooding.

That's more than 100 miles between mileposts 276.5 to 158.8.

If you are traveling eastbound toward Albany, expect to encounter major delays.

All Eastbound traffic will be diverted at Interchange 34A (Syracuse-I-481). Motorists will be directed to follow I-481 to Route 81 South to I-88 North.Traffic will be allowed to re-enter the Thruway at Interchange 25A (Schenectady-Binghamton-I-88).

Drivers are advised to avoid this area completely. Some travelers were forced to get off the Thruway in Syracuse find an alternate route east. One couple from Minnesota said it took them close to an hour to travel between Thruway Exits 35 and 34A.

Maria Patton came up from the Binghamton area to meet her kids when they got off the Thruway in Syracuse. After waiting for more than an hour, Patton learned the car her kids were traveling in was stuck in mud and needed a tow truck to pull them out.

"I thought it was done. Being at home - we thought the flood thing had let up and now here it is. It's scary," said Patton as she waited.

The Thruway closure was just another roadblock and chapter in Amy Aliniz's hurricane adventure. She and her husband's trip from Mexico to their home in Boston has taken three days, two flights and a drive from Detroit that started Monday morning.

"We're so close. We do this drive a lot. we're probably five hours and we'll never make it tonight," said Aliniz. "We just take it one day at a time - there's not a whole lot you can do."

Alaniz and her husband planned to spend Monday night with family in the Binghamton area and then find an alternate route home to Boston on Tuesday.

Original Story:

Motorists trying to head east on the Thruway will need to take an alternate route after the state closed a large stretch of the highway Monday.

According to the State Thruway Authority, Interstate 90 between exit 34A (Syracuse) and exit 27 (Amsterdam) is closed due to severe flooding. This encompasses the highway between milepost 276.5 and 173.6, approximately a 100 mile stretch of one of New York State TMs busiest roadways, and extends a previous shutdown between Exit 29A in Little Falls to Amsterdam. The westbound lanes are closed between Amsterdam and Fultonville's exit 28.

In the Hudson Valley, the Thruway was closed southbound between I-287 South and Newburgh, exits 15 to 17, and northbound between exits 15 and Route 17, exit 16.

The Thruway Authority says drivers should expect severe delays when approaching the closure area, and are advised to avoid this region and to seek alternate routes. State Police suggest drivers take Interstate 481 south to I-81 south to State Route 17, and then head east on I-84 towards Albany. They say drivers should be aware that parts of Route 20 and Route 5S eastbound in the Utica area are also closed due to flooding.

Troopers say the detour could last for at least the next 24 hours.

Also, the Champlain Canal and a long stretch of the Erie Canal in upstate New York are closed to boaters because of Tropical Storm Irene.

Boaters were offered safe harbor between locks E-2 and E-6 near Albany during the storm, but the state Canal Corporation says the Erie Canal is closed Monday between Lock E-2 in Waterford and Lock E-19 in Frankfort, just east of Utica.

The waterways are closed until further notice.

Earlier Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo took to the air to show federal officials the damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene.

New York City was largely spared the heavy damage expected by the storm but upstate New York was pounded by heavy rains. Swollen rivers escaped their banks, knocking down buildings, shredding roads and wreaking havoc throughout eastern New York.

Counties reported scores of local roads closed. Emergency responders were watching dams for signs of danger and power companies were still working to restore electricity to customers statewide.

The state will seek federal funds to assist in the recovery.

Residents of Chadwicks in Oneida County, a few miles south of the Thruway, have been dealing with flooding since the rains from Irene started falling Sunday morning. Click here for more on that story .

Have you experienced any flooding problems in your neighborhood? Has this Thruway closure caused you to have to change your travel plans? Leave a comment below and tell us your story.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.