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Snowstorm Unleashes Transit and Traffic Headaches

By  Julie  Shapiro Jill Colvin Aidan Gardiner and Ben Fractenberg | February 7, 2013 6:05pm | Updated on February 8, 2013 9:52pm

NEW YORK — Major transportation disruptions spread across the city Friday evening during the start of a blizzard that could drop 10 inches of snow on the five boroughs by Saturday morning.  

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced plans to suspend Metro-North Railroad service as of 10 p.m. and close Grand Central Terminal by about midnight as conditions worsened. Metro-North had been operating on a reduced schedule Friday evening after running extra trains during the afternoon. 

The MTA also suspended Long Island Rail Road service east of Speonk on the Montauk line and warned of more service cuts if the snowfall climbs over 10 inches.

All flights were grounded at area airports Friday night. JFK Airport stopped all flights at 6:30 p.m., while LaGuardia Airport canceled all flights after 4 p.m. While more than 2,300 flights were canceled across the metro area, the airports remained open, given stranded passengers blankets and cots.

Subway service was still running Friday evening, though some lines began stopping express service as the storm intensified and other lines were running with delays, according to the MTA's website. Some bus lines started to alter their routes Friday evening as driving conditions worsened.


Amtrak suspended all trains between Penn Station and Boston's South Station starting just after 1 p.m. Friday and will resume only limited service late Saturday morning. Trains will continue running south of New York City and on the Empire and Keystone lines, Amtrak officials said.

BoltBus also suspended all service between New York and Boston on Friday.

The MTA plans to take precautions, including storing trains underground rather than outdoors, putting chains on bus tires and replacing large articulated buses with smaller ones that are less likely to get stuck.

The MTA may suspend bus service if the storm gets bad.

"Certainly we don’t want to find ourselves in a position where we have hundreds of buses stranded on the street," said acting chairman of the MTA Thomas Prendergast during a Thursday press conference.

"As you approach the teeth of the storm, that’s when you’re worried about getting equipment stranded and people stranded on that equipment."

Some subway lines may stop running earlier than usual on Friday evening, according to the MTA, but officials said Friday that they hope to keep subway and bus service running "as close to normal as possible."

Lines that run only underground will likely remain unaffected by the storm. The MTA has deployed equipment in an attempt to ensure the 220 miles of outdoor track are kept clear of snow and debris.

Because of high winds, the Staten Island Ferry was operating on a modified schedule Friday evening.

Alternate-side parking is suspended Friday through Sunday, city officials said.

Officials warned though that if any vehicle was found blocking roadways or impeding snow plows, it will be towed at the owner's expense.

New Yorkers can for the first time track the progress of snow plows in real-time on the city's PlowNYC.

The Port Authority deployed more staff for longer shifts at its various facilities, officials said. They also planned to use special equipment to clear tracks and roadways.

New Jersey Transit is expecting delays on trains and buses and will cross-honor PATH train tickets, officials said.

There were no plans to close the city's bridges and tunnels, officials said, but vehicles on the George Washington Bridge were restricted to 35 miles per hour Friday evening because of hazardous conditions.

The Taxi & Limousine Commission started sending alerts about the blizzard warning to cab drivers' monitors Friday morning, a spokesman said. The alert concludes, "Exercise extreme caution!"

Joan McDonald, commissioner of the state Department of Transportation, advised New Yorkers to stay home on Friday into Saturday if they are able to do so.

"We caution everyone to avoid any unnecessary travel," she said.

For more information about forecast in your neighborhood, check out DNAinfo's weather page.