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Truck Drivers Spin And Fume In Snow With Interstate Closed To Commercial Traffic

BEDFORD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo restricted travel on three major interstates because of the winter storm that pounded the area Wednesday – including a ban on all commercial vehicles on Interstate 84.

CBS2's Elise Finch found some other drivers who were seriously impacted by the restrictions that banned commercial vehicles from I-84. Many truck drivers used I-684 as an alternative as they figured out their next move.

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"I saw the reader-board signs, like, 30 miles into Connecticut – it was telling you it's closed to commercial traffic since 7 a.m., but I see a lot of other drivers still trying it," said truck driver Malcolm Coston.

The ban did indeed go into effect at 7 a.m. on I-84 from Pennsylvania to Connecticut -- long before any accumulating snow had fallen.

"That's crazy, because we're better drivers than the cars," one trucker said.

I-84 is an important commercial roadway for truck drivers. In New York state, it stretches 72 miles from the Pennsylvania state line at its westernmost point to the Connecticut state line at its eastern edge.

The ban of commercial vehicles Wednesday left some drivers scrambling to find alternate routes.

"When you start re-routing, you don't know where you could end up – you could end up on another restricted road, you could end up in a residential area; hopefully not under a low bridge," said truck driver Kieran Glynn. "But we have GPS for that type of thing, but it's a gamble."

Glynn said drivers were left with insufficient information.

"It came as a surprise to me. I was lucky to find this rest area. I was just asking this guy over here what's up with that, but there's nobody here giving information about what the alternative is," he said.

William Perez was forced to take local roads. He said it added about 40 miles and two extra hours to his trip, but he also said closing the road was worth it given the dangers.

"Like where Pennsylvania and New York meet, it's really bad over there – it's really bad," Perez said. "So I see why they closed the road."

And several drivers decided not to take the gamble and stopped driving altogether.

"They only allow us so many hours to drive," said truck driver Keith Killen. "I'm out of hours anyhow, so I'm just going to sack here for the night and I'll figure it out in the morning."

Some truckers also found themselves on the Bear Mountain Parkway, which became a slick slalom for cars and trucks. At least one was furious that I-84 had been shut down and more treacherous roads were left as an alternative.

The driver of a semi-trailer truck hauling groceries ran into trouble when he had to stop on the icy uphill grade.

"Somebody got stuck in front of me, and I stopped to help him. I got stuck," said truck driver Juan Pierson.

A truck with more traction and a heavier load of batteries stopped to offer a tow. That driver was annoyed that he didn't have the wide, flat I-84 available to him.

"One of the trucks slides off this hill, they're dead. Why would you make trucks go on this road? Close this road and open 84 and concentrate on plowing 84. That's why this is happening," said trucker Jordan Zanlowski.

Zanlowski's attempt to tow Pierson's truck failed. When Young and his crew turned around, the tractor trailer was still jammed up against the guardrail with some traffic squeezing by, including a plow.

But plenty of other commercial drivers either ignored or missed the signs that Interstate 84 was closed to them. CBS2's Finch saw dozens of big rigs traveling in both directions.

A slight hit from one of those trucks sent Eddie Wong's car into a ditch.

"The snow was very heavy, and there was a truck behind me. They didn't see me and they rear-ended me," Wong said.

Emmanuel Saggese of Mahopac stepped in to pull him out.

"I just happened to see him on the side of the road. I figured before he got plowed in, I'd get him out of there," he said.

Long tandem vehicles were banned from parts of I-90 and I-87 Wednesday.

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