Transportation officials brace for winter storm across metro area


Posted on January 27, 2014 at 11:32 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 27 at 11:41 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- As the metro area prepares for freezing temperatures and snow, transportation officials are doing the same over the next 24 to 48 hours.

"I hope we don't have any trouble getting back. Thankfully our flight so far is only delayed an hour and a half," said Bruce Polkes, who was hoping to fly out of Armstrong International Airport on Monday night ahead of the winter storm.

In town for the National Autodealers Association Convention, Polkes said some of his fellow colleagues might likely end up stranded in New Orleans on Tuesday.

"We know some other people who were suppose to fly out tomorrow very concerned about the storm and tried to move their tickets to today so they can get out ahead of it," said Polkes.

A winter freeze warning has already canceled flights out of New Orleans. Officials made the announcement at a news conference Monday afternoon.

"The airlines are contemplating canceling all flights, if not all of them tomorrow, and this may continue into Wednesday," said Airport Director of Aviation Iftikhar Ahmad.

The airport isn't alone in taking pre-storm precautions. The Louisiana Department of Transportation is also gearing up for slick roadways.

"Black ice of course is a common occurrence with these types of freezing temperatures. So it's very difficult, if possible at all, to see that on the roadway," said LADOTD spokesperson Bambi Hall.

In Algiers on Monday, sand and de-icing salt was loaded up on trucks.

DOTD officials say all hands are on-deck to try and keep the metro area's 7-parish highway district passable during the winter storm

"Our focus is not on road closures number one. Our focus is to continue accessibility as long as we can," said Hall.

The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority says buses will continue to run their regular routes, weather permitting. However, streetcars will be taken off the grid on Tuesday morning to protect electrical and metal equipment. RTA says it will be replaced with bus service.

"Flying home -- ours is delayed and we're hoping delayed doesn't turn into a cancellation," said Hooman Nissani, who joined other airport travelers trying to reach their destinations ahead of this frigid blast.

Only time will tell what mother nature dumps on the metro area.

"Very, very worried. I heard two days of not traveling. So a lot of things to do tomorrow," said Nissan in route to the west coast.

As for Amtrak train service: officials say they are monitoring the weather conditions and will make any necessary service adjustments if needed.