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Bills vs. Browns: New York State closing Thruway on Thursday, hindering travel plans

Interstate 90, which runs from Cleveland through Buffalo, is going to be closed to commercial vehicles in Western New York thanks to pending storms

Atlanta Falcons v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

New York State Governor and native Western New Yorker Kathy Hochul announced on Wednesday that beginning Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. EST, the Thruway will be closed from Rochester west to the Pennsylvania border for commercial traffic. There was no timetable set for the reopening of Interstate 90 in the westernmost part of the state, but it’s safe to say based on earlier reports that the shutdown could last through the game between the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon in Orchard Park, NY.

The I-90 is the main highway in the state of New York and goes through Northwestern Pennsylvania into Ohio, and directly to Cleveland.

Since the shutdown is currently only for commercial vehicles, that would include the Browns’ equipment trucks, which usually come in on the Friday prior to a Sunday game. It also could mean that the team personnel may have to ride all the way up Route 20 from the PA border if the airport is closed due to the storm. While the airport is northeast of the city of Buffalo, and the majority of the snow is expected to hit south, air traffic may still be impacted.

The worst part of the multi-day storm is expected to hit on Friday, with 2-3 inches of snow per hour falling in some lake effect bands, including near Highmark Stadium. By game time Sunday, the snow is expected to weaken, but what has already fallen could still impact the on-field product—in addition to altering travel schedules before and after the contest.

The NFL is monitoring the situation. Pushing back kickoff a few hours could prove to be a wise move, but moving it off Sunday isn’t an option. The Bills play on Thanksgiving Day against the Detroit Lions next week, and already have a shortened time frame to deal with. If they had to move, the Lions are away this weekend, and Detroit could theoretically host the Bills-Browns tilt on Sunday, though that has not yet been mentioned as an option. The mental and physical lift to make that happen for Sunday would require a decision relatively soon.