By TimesLedger Staff
As the city’s first snowstorm pounded the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio toured western Queens Thursday morning to evaluate the plowing in neighborhoods particularly hard hit in last year’s blizzard.
He visited Astoria, Long Island City and Jackson Heights, where residents complained bitterly about uncleared streets when Winter Storm Jonas dropped a record 26 inches of snow on the five boroughs.
“I liked what I saw,” the mayor told a news conference at 11 a.m. updating the city efforts to respond to the storm.
De Blasio met with City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Jackson Heights) at Ravenswood in Astoria and Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-Corona).
“Both said they saw real results from Sanitation,” de Blasio said.
In response to the outcry from Queens over unplowed streets in western Queens and parts of the Ridgewood area in the 2016 blizzard, the mayor said the city spent $21 million on smaller snow-clearing vehicles for the Sanitation Department to reach smaller roads.
As the mayor spoke, Kennedy Airport closed its runways for departing flights, although the terminals remained open. Over at LaGuardia, which is used as a key measuring point for snowfall, three inches fell for two hours in a row, de Blasio said.
By midday 9 inches of snow was reported at LaGuardia, where 655 flights were canceled, and six inches were on the ground at Kennedy, which had 700 cancellations, the mayor’s office said.
Bus service has been scaled back, according to MTA chief Ronnie Hakim. All roads in the city are open.
The mayor said the total snowfall for the city was expected to range from between 10 inches and 14 inches. The winter storm warning should be lifted by 6 p.m.
Schools were closed across the city, CUNY campuses were dark and many bank branches were shuttered.
The mayor said he expected schools to reopen Friday and the city to resume relatively normal operations.
De Blasio said mass transit was running well Thursday, but he urged drivers to stay off the roads so that the city could plow the streets.
Kathryn Garcia, the Sanitation commissioner, said as of 11 a.m. Thursday 91 percent of the city’s streets had been plowed, but cautioned that the vehicles must return again and again because of the intensity of the storm.