Unprepared, Minor Storm Creates Traffic Armageddon

Unprepared, Minor Storm Creates Traffic Armageddon
by David Greene

Its funny how havoc breaks out just after an election.

The unexpected Nor’easter that struck the area Thursday, November 15, is going to have people singing the Judas Priest song, “Some Heads are Gonna Roll,” after the 6 inches of snow caught many drivers unprepared– and virtually the entire city was locked-down with gridlock traffic that sent the normal rush hour commute into double overtime.

The snow began to fall in the Bronx at just after 2 p.m., but the trouble began shortly after the Bayonne Bridge were shut at just after 3 p.m., and the upper level of the George Washington Bridge was shut an hour later, when a 25-car accident was reported on the Manhattan side of the bridge.

Buses across the city were unprepared for the weather as many lacked the chains on the tires needed to travel in the snow, a fact confirmed by City Hall spokesman Eric Phillips.

By late evening, many of the buses had their flashing signs, stating, “No passengers,” or “out of service,” which left many waiting, many more walking.

The Port Authority Bus Terminal was shutdown to buses and commuters, and the icing on this cake was the icing condition that shutdown the N/B Harlem River Drive.

Two traffic agents normally directing traffic around a construction project at Eastchester Road and Morris Park Avenue, were caught keeping dry under the awning of the Sahara Hookah Bar.

One driver reported, “I was stuck on the ice for two hours outside of Stop & Shop. Got it free and brought it home and I got stuck on the ice again and blocked traffic for another two hours.”

Another driver, now stuck behind an ambulance along Mosholu Parkway North, reported his trip from Lower Manhattan had taken six hours.

That same driver watched in disbelief as one 4 X 4 drove up the embankment and in between two parked cars, he told the driver, “You were better off where you were,” pointing to the stopped ambulance in front and now another vehicle was stuck in the slush behind them.

One police officer risking life and limb as he directed traffic as best he could at the intersection of Webster Avenue and Bedford Park Boulevard. Problem being too many vehicles and not enough road.

Later in the evening, police shutdown the Van Cortlandt Park Exit of the Major Degan due to multiple stalled or broken down vehicles. A sea of tractor-trailers at West 230 Street we’re still at a standstill after midnight.

Throw in the accidents, more than 100 fallen trees and manholes fires that had to have pushed the NYPD’s call level to near-record levels.

One person was killed in a fire on Edgecomb Avenue and one transit commuter was struck and killed by a train at the Halsey Station in Brooklyn at 1 a.m. Friday morning. Three men who were being chased by police were forced to abandon their vehicle in stalled traffic on the Williamsburg Bridge. The trio were quickly apprehended.

The Department of Sanitation initially deployed 700 salt spreaders and later added 300 additional trucks.

Sanitation spokesman Vito Turso deferred blame, telling reporters, “This afternoon’s snowfall was much heavier than had been forecast by all weather outlets.”

New York City Controller Scott Stringer was unsympathetic, Tweeting, “The city clearly didn’t properly prepare for tonight’s snowstorm– its a mess.” Stringer added, “My office will be following up with the Department of Sanitation to demand answers.”

Congressman Adriano Espaillat also Tweeted, “Moms are stranded with their kids, people are running out of gas. We demand answers.”

Officials numbers were not yet available, but the Department of Sanitation had sent out 700 salt spreaders and later deployed 300 additional pieces of equipment, including plows.

Alternate side parking was suspended the next day, but there’s hope– spring is just 124 days away.

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