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Long Island

After storm, LI commuters may face another rough ride

LIRR commuters brave the cold and snow at

LIRR commuters brave the cold and snow at the train station in Ronkonkoma. (Jan. 21, 2014) Credit: James Carbone

Long Islanders endured hourslong commutes on snow-slickened roads and slow homeward rides on packed LIRR trains Tuesday.

They could face another tough go Wednesday morning.

Work crews battled through the night to plow and salt roads as temperatures dipped as low as 10 degrees overnight. A winter storm warning was set to expire Wednesday morning at 8, forecasters said.

Roberto Romero left his job at a Mastic furniture store about noon and headed home to Melville, but said it took him more than four hours to reach Farmingdale via Sunrise Highway. "It's no good -- bumper to bumper," said Romero, 47.

Nassau and Suffolk police said they saw a higher-than-normal volume of car accidents on Long Island's roadways as record snowfall blanketed the region, but neither agency could provide specific numbers. The state Department of Transportation said a fleet of about 500 workers and 300 vehicles -- including plows, salters and loaders -- was deployed by early afternoon as the storm intensified.

The Long Island Rail Road added extra trains Tuesday afternoon to accommodate commuters going home early because of the snowstorm, but some passengers complained of lack of planning.

"It was packed," said Margaret Ammirati of Westbury, who took a 2:52 p.m. train. "If you tell people to leave early, you should have been prepared."

LIRR spokesman Sal Arena said it added service "as needed," but did not have specifics on branches or schedules.

But at the Huntington station, Janett Jarrett, traveling from East New York to her home in Huntington via Jamaica Station, said the trains were packed with barely any standing room. But she was grateful because it was actually a train the railroad had extended to run farther east than its original destination at Hicksville.

"I didn't think it would be as packed because it was an extra train," she said. "But I guess with everyone getting out early, that's what happened. I'm just glad I got on, because some people couldn't."

At midnight, the LIRR began following a weekend schedule, which it will follow Wednesday. That means about 60 percent of weekday trains. The LIRR will provide bus service for customers on its West Hempstead line and stations east of Ronkonkoma.

Commuters coming into the Ronkonkoma train station just before 6 Tuesday night left a delayed, packed LIRR train that had pulled out of Penn Station at 3:55 p.m. They then had to dig out their cars in the snow-covered parking lot.

The Nassau Inter-County Express, or NICE Bus, told its riders to expect delays and possible detours, especially on the North Shore, as road conditions worsened during the storm. Service on some Suffolk County Transit bus routes that was suspended was to resume at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Nassau bus riders should visit or follow NICE on social media for updates.

Suffolk County Transit bus customers were advised to visit or call 631-852-5200 for service updates.

With Nicole Fuller, Sarah Armaghan, Deborah S. Morris

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