As the area copes with another wintry wallop, New Yorkers can expect a better effort by the city than the Dec. 26-27 debacle to keep roads clear and public transportation running this time around, officials said Tuesday.
This storm, which could dump between 8 to 12 inches of snow by Wednesday evening, is the first real test of city operations since the botched blizzard cleanup last month that snarled trains, left buses and ambulances stranded and streets unplowed for days.
The National Weather Service predicts the heaviest snowfall for early Wednesday morning, but the storm could last until 6 p.m. – a recipe for an ugly commute. Unlike the last storm, the city declared a weather emergency Tuesday afternoon, before the flakes started falling.
The city, however, didn’t declare a snow emergency because it would force drivers to move their cars from snow routes when it’s better to just leave them parked where they are.
At a City Council hearing Monday, officials were criticized for making the same decision for the last storm, in which no emergency was declared at all. Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith admitted not doing so was a mistake.
At a news conference Tuesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged the city would be ready but warned the cleanup would still take time.
“It’s going to be a difficult, difficult rush hour,” said Bloomberg, adding that “there’s no way that our city’s plows can get to all 6,000 streets in one or two hours.”
Alternate side parking rules, parking meters and garbage pick-up are suspended indefinitely.
The city has 1,700 plows and 365 salt spreaders ready to go. Private contractors also have been hired to clear snow from secondary streets. And transit will put chains on 1,000 buses.
Bloomberg on Tuesday deflected a question about where he was during the Dec. 26 blizzard and a New York Times report that his private plane was seen in Bermuda, where he owns a vacation home.
“I was totally in communication and in charge and accountable all the time,” the mayor said, “and that’s the way I’ve been for nine years.”
What your commute will look like:
•Normal bus and train service will be running for as long as possible, but disruptions are likely.
•If trains get stuck, “customer advocates” will alert managers about stranded passengers
•Officials have advised people not to travel if they don’t have to