NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — The latest winter storm to slam Connecticut made travel difficult and strained snow removal budgets as some fed up residents began counting the days until spring.
Tandem tractor-trailer trucks were banned from highways on Thursday and most schools were closed as plow trucks struggled to keep roads clear in a heavy winter storm that was expected to dump up to 20 inches of snow and some ice in parts of the state.
"I've had enough of shoveling snow," said Ben Gaffney of Branford. "I'm definitely fed up with the cold weather. We're counting down the days now to spring. I think it's 37 days left."
Gaffney's normal commute of 10 to 15 minutes to his job as general manager at Atticus Bookstore Cafe takes about 45 minutes to an hour in snowstorms. The snow can help business at Atticus, which is near Yale University.
"The cold is what drives people away more than anything because they don't want to leave their house," Gaffney said. "Snow is actually a little bit of a boost because classes get cancelled so they have nothing else to do so they come out and enjoy our bookstore and restaurant."
Metro-North Railroad reduced service, while dozens of flights were canceled at Bradley International Airport north of Hartford.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy ordered the truck ban beginning at 4 a.m., told nonessential state employees not to report to work and asked residents to avoid unnecessary travel.
By Thursday afternoon there were about 40 accidents on highways but no serious injuries or fatalities, said Scott DeVico, spokesman for the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
The National Weather Service said 10 to 20 inches of snow and up to one-tenth of an inch of ice could fall in northwestern Connecticut, with the larger amounts accumulating in higher elevations in the northern Litchfield County hills. The agency forecast 8 to 12 inches of snow and some ice in northern Connecticut and the southwestern part of the state, and 6 to 10 inches of snow and some ice in southeastern Connecticut.
The state Department of Transportation had hundreds of trucks plowing highways. But with each run taking two to three hours to complete, the challenge was keeping the roads clear as snow quickly accumulated behind the trucks.
"The conditions are poor, no question about it," DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said Thursday afternoon. "Mother Nature has the upper hand when the snow is coming down at 2 to 3 inches an hour. Anyone that is out there traveling is going to encounter a pretty significant amount of accumulation on the roads."
The latest storm was added to already depleted snow removal budgets. The DOT had already spent all $30 million in 11 storms this season before the latest storm.
In New Haven, the budget for materials and private contractors hired to help has received an additional $200,000 infusion and will likely require an additional transfer to cover costs, said city spokesman Laurence Grotheer. The budget for overtime costs will likely be used up with the latest storm, he said.
Mayor Toni Harp declared a snow emergency and asked the state and federal governments to assist with storm cleanup by providing heavy equipment and the personnel to operate it, Grotheer said.
State courts were closed, college classes were cancelled and officials in many cities and towns were warning people about parking bans and threatening to have violators' vehicles towed away.