NBC 4 New York
As the snow piled up, unplowed streets became an issue for many drivers. Chris Glorioso reports.
The snowstorm that walloped New York City Tuesday caused a particularly frustrating traffic mess on the Upper East Side.
Neighbors began observing stalled traffic along busy Second Avenue in the late morning as snow started to coat the ground. Jonathan Smith wrote to NBC 4 New York, "We have had buses stop in the middle of Second Avenue at 79th Street, as they were not able to move. Now we have to contend with dangerous conditions for both drivers and pedestrians."
Grace Bugeja Vella wrote on NBC 4 New York's Facebook page, "My middle school aged child and other children were stuck on MTA bus on 2nd avenue and 76th street for 2 hours trying to get home from school."
Vella said her daughter finally began walking home and was then rescued by another concerned parent in a car.
Further down Second Avenue, it took drivers an hour and a half to cross the Queensboro Bridge to get into Manhattan at one point Tuesday afternoon. One NBC 4 New York producer sat in traffic on the off-ramp near 61st Street for three hours. The snow, a disabled vehicle and a minor bus crash were blamed for backing up traffic.
Traffic agents, usually placed at the off-ramp intersections, were visibly absent. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said it was "too dangerous" to place the agents on the streets.
"Cars slipping and sliding, you can't put a traffic agent in the middle of those kinds of conditions," he said during a news conference.
City officials admitted "not a very good percentage" of streets had been plowed ahead of the evening rush and said the quick accumulation of snow and traffic on the streets prevented plows from clearing snow efficiently.
"The early rush hour and the traffic bottled us up in many of the streets," said Department of Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty. "It has been a slow response so far because we can't move out there."
Upper East Side residents also claimed the PlowNYC map, which tracks snow plows throughout the city, showed their streets had not been plowed. Doherty said a non-working GPS on one of the salt trucks was to blame for the apparent glitch on the map and that plows were moving through.
De Blasio urged drivers to continue to stay off the roads into Wednesday.
"When they have an open field to do their work, they do an extraordinary job," he said of the city's sanitation crews.