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Long IslandTransportation

As storm winds down, LIers find getting around to be a chore 

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran provides update on the snowstorm that blanketed Long Island on Wednesday and Thursday.  Credit: News 12 Long Island

Long Island's biggest snowstorm in nearly two years made it difficult to get around, and officials warned that perilous travel conditions could last into Friday.

In Suffolk, where police counted 171 auto accidents from Wednesday night into Thursday morning, County Executive Steve Bellone said that, although the county's 200 plows had cleared all major roads and would keep working through the night, frigid temperatures forecast for Friday could prolong the storm's threat.

"When we get to the night and there are still roads out there that are not down to asphalt, that means there's black ice conditions. Very dangerous," Bellone said in a Thursday news conference. "It may look like the road is clear, but there's black ice down there. So, people need to be very careful throughout the day, and into tomorrow as well."

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, in a news conference, also urged motorists to take extra caution. She noted that police reported 43 auto accidents in the county during the storm, including 17 that involved injuries.

"It’s slushy. It’s slippery. It’s icy. It’s below freezing. We’re asking everybody to stay home, if you can. We’ve gotten very good at that," Curran said.

"It’s incredibly frigid temperatures and heavy, packed snow," said Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin, who rode with plow drivers through Wednesday night. "It’s going to take awhile, and we’re asking residents to have patience."

The Long Island Expressway and other state highways in the region were all passable by Thursday morning, according to the state Department of Transportation, which had about 275 plows and 450 plow drivers and supervisors clearing roads on Long Island.

The department urged motorists to stay off the roads as strong winds continued to blow snow back onto roadways. "Keep it slow," department spokesman Stephen Canzoneri said. "If you have four-wheel drive, use it."

LIRR delays

The Long Island Rail Road, which ran an "expanded weekend" schedule Thursday in order to keep some tracks clear for snow-fighting equipment, expected to return to normal service Friday.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority reported it was "operating well" across all its agencies, including the LIRR, just before noon Thursday. The railroad, in a message to customers Thursday afternoon, said its workers were "strategically spread throughout the system clearing ice and snow from the rails and switches, which will help us run the best service possible."

Early Thursday, the LIRR reported systemwide delays due to "weather-related switch trouble." Although the delays averaged 10 to 15 minutes, some lasted an hour, and other trains were canceled or replaced by buses.The railroad kept indoor waiting rooms open throughout the storm "to give our folks a little chance to warm up," LIRR president Phillip Eng told News 12.

The Nassau Inter-County Express, or NICE Bus, reported several detours caused by "impassible roads." Suffolk County Transit also reported via Twitter some detours and service changes, and delayed the start time of all its bus runs.

Airport cancellations

JFK, LaGuardia and other local airports saw "significant cancellations" Wednesday afternoon through early Thursday, Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton said Thursday. "It was a very slow start this morning," Cotton said at a meeting of the authority’s Board of Commissioners.

The storm caused whiteout conditions at Long Island MacArthur Airport, forcing the Ronkonkoma airfield to close for two hours early Thursday morning, Islip Town spokeswoman Caroline Smith said.

Twelve flights heading to or from MacArthur were canceled because of the storm, which dropped 7 inches of snow on the airport, Smith said.

Flights were due to resume early Thursday evening.

With John Asbury, Robert Brodsky, Mark Harrington and Carl Macgowan

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