Connecticut highways will be closed to tractor trailer trucks beginning 6 a.m. Saturday morning as the region braces for what Gov. Ned Lamont was expecting to be a “wicked” snow storm.
The storm was expected to begin Friday evening and continue through Saturday. The National Weather Service was projecting it would have the greatest impact in the eastern region of the state where between 12 and 18 inches of accumulation was expected.
Lamont was blunt as he announced the closure during a televised press conference from a Transportation Department maintenance garage in Wethersfield.
“No tractor trailers on the roads. Period. Get them off the roads,” Lamont said. Neighboring states like Massachusetts and Rhode Island would be enacting similar bans, he said. “I think you know the reason why: they gotta be able to get the snow plows through. They don’t need anybody slowing things up. We also have to be able to get emergency vehicles wherever they’ve got to go.”
In addition to the highway ban, DOT Commissioner Joe Giulietti said other forms of travel will be closed Saturday. Amtrak will suspend its service at the end of the day Friday and will not operate Saturday. Metro North will be offering limited services. Giulietti encouraged residents to check the website cttravelsmart.org for transportation updates.
“Normally I’m turning around and saying, ‘Look for alternative means of transportation in.’ There are not going to be alternative means tomorrow,” Giulietti said. “All systems will be down with the exception of Metro North running a limited service.”
The Transportation Department intends to have more than 600 trucks on the roads to manage the snowfall. Giulietti said his department was down about 30% of its staff. Around a dozen were out due to COVID-19, he said. The agency had also brought in contractors to assist with snow removal, he said.
Lamont said that Eversource, the state’s largest electricity supplier, had also brought contractors into the state ahead of the storm and had 600 crews ready. In a Thursday press release, Eversource President of Connecticut Electric Operations Steve Sullivan said the storm had been difficult to track, but hundreds of crews had been brought into Connecticut.
“They’ll be geared up and ready to respond to this storm alongside our Eversource crews,” Sullivan said. “We also remind customers that restorations may take longer as we ensure the safety of our employees who will be responding in challenging road conditions.”
Giulietti said that residual salt on the roads from the last storm will help serve as a pretreatment. But despite preparations, Giulietti warned that state crews may have difficulties keeping up with the snowfall. He said areas as far west as New Haven may experience blizzard conditions. Accumulation of 1 inch an hour was manageable for road crews but some projections suggest the storm may dump snow at a rate of 3-5 inches per hour, he said.
“If that’s going on, we will not be able to keep up with that,” he said.
The governor urged residents to stay off the roads until the storm had subsided and crews had an opportunity to do their jobs.
“Don’t go on the roads. Stay home tomorrow,” Lamont said. “Get your iPhone powered up, go get yourself some Campbell’s soup. Find an elderly neighbor that you ought to be touching base with but stay at home.”