Hundreds of accidents, closed bridges after NJ’s first snow of season
The first winter storm of the season wreaked absolute havoc across the state with hundreds of crashes, slippery roads and canceled or delayed mass transit service that left commuters in the lurch for much of the evening.
Even before the heart of the Thursday night rush hour, Sgt. Lawrence Peele of the New Jersey State Police told NJ.com that troopers had responded to more than 400 crashes by 4:30 p.m.
The Department of Transportation reported a 35 mph speed restriction from the Delaware Memorial Bridge to Exit 8, and a 45 mph limit from Exit 8 to the George Washington Bridge. The Garden State Parkway also has speed restrictions of 35 mph from Exit 105 to 138 and 45 mph from Exit 138 to 159.
But drivers were lucky if they got to go that fast. Many reported being stranded on roadways for hours.
The Port Authority also shut down its bus service, informing commuters in Manhattan to find some other way back to New Jersey.
Gov. Phil Murphy said weather forecasts hadn't anticipated this much snow and mess. He planned to address the storm on Friday morning during news briefing in Woodbridge.
The DOT said it had dispatched more than 800 spreaders and plows but warned that roads may still "be slushy and slippery as snow turns to rain."
State Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Schapiro said plows are sent anywhere that gets at least 2 inches of snow accumulation.
"It is the first snow of the season, so drivers are getting used to the weather," he said.
By 6:30 on Thursday night the DOT was urging motorist to "avoid driving tonight if possible as road conditions may be icy or slushy throughout the state as snow turns to rain."
The bad weather caused the Port Authority to close the Bayonne Bridge in both directions due to "weather related maintenance activities." NJ.com reported the closure was done because slippery conditions were causing cars to get stuck on the renovated bridge.
The Palisades Interstate Parkway Police Department reported that the upper level of the George Washington Bridge is closed, and that there was no access to the bridge from the Parkway.
The news wasn't any better off the roads as NJ Transit reported system-wide delays of up to an hour on all train lines. During the Thursday night commute train, bus and light rail tickets are being cross-honored across the system. The North Jersey Coast Line reported two trains are delayed up to 90 minutes due to an Amtrak issue near Newark Penn Station.
The Port Authority also reported that "limited amount of buses have been able to get to the PABT, causing overcrowding conditions. People who would otherwise take a bus from the terminal were told to take a train or a ferry.
Listeners and readers of New Jersey 101.5 complained about road conditions and wondered whether authorities had done enough to prepare.
The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management activated the State Emergency Operations Center to monitor the storm as it is expected to continue to affect the state through the night.
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