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Long IslandTransportation

Nor’easter makes traveling difficult; many on LI stay home

An overturned vehicle on the westbound Long Island

An overturned vehicle on the westbound Long Island Expressway in Manorville Wednesday morning. Credit: James Carbone

There were plenty of obstacles to getting around the region Wednesday — slick roads, canceled trains, grounded flights.

But many Long Islanders simply avoided them by staying home.

Overall, rail and roadway officials reported far lighter-than-usual traffic.

For those who did venture out, there was plenty of trouble, as the fourth nor’easter this month disrupted travel on all forms of transportation and transit, and contributed to a slew of car accidents, including one on the Wantagh State Parkway in which a woman died.

There were lots of hopes that travel would improve Thursday, but not a lot of assurances. That’s because the unpredictable storm picked up after 6 p.m. Wednesday, with forecasters saying snow could keep falling until morning.

Road crews, train workers and other snow warriors worked to keep things moving. The Long Island Expressway and other major highways were cleared by an armada of 300 plows and trucks.

Traffic had been reduced by 30 to 40 percent from normal workdays on the Long Island Expressway, said Stephen Canzoneri, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation on Long Island.

Spokesman Aaron Donovan said the LIRR began the day with 25 percent fewer riders than a typical weekday, and ridership further dissipated by the evening peak hours.

With the reduced demand, the railroad canceled seven evening trains on three different branches.

Donovan said both evening and morning commutes had gone smoothly.

By 8 p.m. Wednesday, LIRR officials had not announced any plans to curtail service during the Thursday morning commute.

Railroad officials said work crews would be out throughout the night fighting the effects of the storm and trying to keep the rails clear of snow and ice.

Flights at LaGuardia all but ended at noon Wednesday and were not expected to resume until Thursday, said Scott Ladd, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. There was extremely limited flight activity at Kennedy as well, he said.

Overall, more than 70 percent of all flights in the region’s three major airports were canceled, he said.

At Long Island MacArthur Airport, nary a flight came in or out all day, save for a few corporate jets, even though little snow accumulation had been reported as of 6 p.m., said Shelley LaRose-Arken, the Town of Islip aviation commissioner. Cancellations at airports elsewhere on the East Coast were the cause of the inactivity, she said.

“We didn’t even have to plow,” said LaRose-Arken at about 3:30 p.m. “At the moment, there is no cleanup.”

Many Island buses and ferries were either suspended or delayed Wednesday.

While officials hope for better travel Thursday, at least some of the bruising from the storm will remain. There are already a number of flight cancellations at all of the airports, said Ladd of the Port Authority.

Still, he was hoping for the best.

“Tomorrow will be a recovery day,” he said.

With Mark Morales, Alfonso A. Castillo, Lisa Irizarry, Robert Brodsky, Martin C. Evans, Patricia Kitchen, Víctor Manuel Ramos and Rachelle Blidner

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