DOT Says Nor'easter Traffic Delays Not Its Fault

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DOT officials say Wednesday evening's nor'easter traffic delays were caused by the storm's timing, not by the DOT response.
DOT officials say Wednesday evening's nor'easter traffic delays were caused by the storm's timing, not by the DOT response. Photo Credit: Jessica Glenza

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. — Motorists reports of delays of more than five hours during Wednesday evening's nor'easter were not a result of the DOT's response to the storm but of the storm's timing, said the New York State Department of Transportation, which is responsible for clearing snow from many heavily trafficked state highways. 

"The more cars on the road, the harder it is for our plow to get to where it needs to be. So if a car goes off the road and causes a backup, our plow gets caught in that backup, too, and we can't get out of it any easier than anyone else," said Sue Stepp, from the regional DOT office in Poughkeepsie. 

"All of our resources were fully deployed. We actually applied salt to the roads as soon as the roads started, and then we began plowing as soon as there was enough accumulation to allow us to plow," Stepp said.

Commuters on the Taconic State Parkway took to Facebook on Wednesday evening, reporting hours-long delays on several state-maintained roads and cars scattered across roadways in slippery, icy conditions.

"I took Route 9 north from Briarcliff to Wappingers. Took 2.5 hours. Cars all over the roads. Was a hot mess," wrote Tracey Henn Howells, a Facebook user on the group page Commuters Taconic State Parkway CTSP. Users provide feedback on road conditions on the public group page.

In response to a Taconic lane closure warning posted on the page, Facebook user Mike Doyle wrote, "Stay away as far as you can! Haven't moved in 45 min."

On the same page, Merrette Rentmeester Sinnett wrote that her husband was "stuck on the Taconic" for five-and-a-half hours.

In all, "Commuters Taconic State Parkway CTSP" published 13 separate status updates with delays, lane closures and updates, beginning just before 4 p.m. and ending past 9 p.m.

Lewisboro officials were also critical of the DOT's response. 

“The truth is that the DOT blew it,” Lewisboro Supervisor Peter Parsons told The Daily Voice. “They didn’t send their trucks out until rush hour and by then they were stuck in traffic and everyone was stuck in the snow.”

A plow broke down on the Taconic State Parkway north, Stepp said. Other state roadways that allow tractor-trailers, unlike the Taconic, reported jack-knifed tractor-trailers at on- and off-ramps. However, Stepp said the volume of traffic during the peak of the storm was the DOT's biggest hurdle to getting roads plowed. 

In all, Stepp said 28 plows were on the road during Wednesday's nor'easter, clearing about 622 miles of northern Westchester roads.

"We did everything we could," said Stepp. "When there's a traffic delay our plows are stuck in the same traffic you are. If you're stuck, we're stuck. The best advice we can give people is to keep their traveling at a minimum when the weather's bad."

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Comments (6)

The real reason...........the storm started just as they were completing their 7 to 3 shift....since they start driving back to the barns at 2 (at no more than 10 mph) they were'nt able to start the job UNTIL THEY WERE ON OVERTIME! Come on people the State DOT is a JOKE when it comes to taking care of highways and worse yet the many state roads that meander through our communities......9, 9A, 100, 134, 133, 120, 87, 287, 84 and 684. If they would leave the state roads to the local municipalities we'd be fine but NOOOOOO these guys do not care a damn about local roads being accessible. As soon as the first flakes fly 9A becomes a parking lot from Ossining to Elmsford.....memo to State DOT IT IS ONE OF THE MOST HIGHLY TRAVELED ROADS IN WESTCHESTER COUNTY....I Repeat.....9A from Ossining to Elmsford....IS ONE OF THE MOST HIGHLY TRAVELED ROADS IN WESTCHESTER COUNTY......The governor needs to take care of ConEd and STATE DOT....BOTH ARE POLITICAL DUMPING GROUNDS for friends and cronies alike.....

It took me three hours to get home from Harrison to Putnam Valley Wednesday evening because DOT did not do a good job on the major roads in Westchester. I travelled on both main roads and local roads, and by comparison, the local roads were better treated than the Hutch, 287, and the Taconic. Spokespeople need to stop using talking points when asked questions in these matters, they sound idiotic. Sue Stepp from DOT was out of step with reality when she stated, "The best advice we can give people is to keep their traveling at a minimum when the weather's bad." I have news for Ms. Stepp, all of the drivers on the roads were coming home from work, many of whom couldn't afford to take any more time off of work because of last week's storm. The DOT failed to properly salt the main roads for commuters to get home safely. DOT probably got caught off guard by the storm, we all did, but there was still time to pre-treat the roads before slush hour started.

The state's response to any snowstorm has been horrible. Rt. 684 is always a mess and seems to be the last to be plowed or salted. They have to be held accountable but they won't be, as their union will protect them.

Here's a novel concept--start salting and plowing BEFORE rush hour. The snow began falling and sticking at around 2:00in the afternoon!!

There is no better way, my will complain now, undoubtedly, and all throughout winter's inclement, claim...but rejoice in the herald of spring and warmth of the you not understand the majestic balance of nature?

Be hold! For Mother Nature is upon you! Rejoice

Who can I blame for the 90 minute drive from the off ramp at 684 to the other side of Mount Kisco near the Saw Mill Club?? I believe I heard that the Saw Mill Pkwy was closed in both directions and that all traffic was diverted through Mount Kisco...this led to standstill traffic through our already congested town. There has to be a better way.