- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut officials and Metro-North Railroad moved quickly Wednesday to reduce what’s expected to be tremendous pressure on the state’s transportation network as a major winter storm arrives in New England.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced a ban on tandem tractor-trailer trucks from primary and secondary roads effective at 4 a.m. Thursday.

Metro-North said it will reduce service Thursday to 75 percent of regular train runs. It expects fewer riders as commuters stay home. The rail service also is trying to reduce the storm’s impact on equipment, tracks and other parts of its operation.

Connecticut has already spent all the money it budgeted for snow and ice removal, forcing officials to shift money from other accounts to pay for plow trucks and the workers who run them.

Judd Everhart, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the agency has “eaten through” all $30 million in 11 storms this season. The coming storm will be the 12th.

“It’s unusual to have this many occurrences,” Malloy said.

Everhart said 632 trucks are at the ready and more than 200 private contractor trucks are on call.

“We are totally ready for anything that comes our way,” he said in an email Wednesday.

Metro-North uses special third-rail shoes to clear off snow and ice buildup. The commuter railroad said it will pay particular attention to the New Haven line’s overhead catenary wires that are vulnerable to ice and snow. The railroads also have treated door panels with anti-freeze agents.

In addition, the rail line said it has put in place rail-mounted snow-fighting equipment to handle accumulation along the tracks. It includes 17 snow blowers, rail-mounted jet engines blasting hot air, plow trains, backhoes and other equipment.

Bradley Airport in Windsor Locks was expected to remain open although flights will likely be canceled, a spokesman said.

The state’s largest utility, Connecticut Light & Power, said it would activate its emergency response plan Thursday morning and crews would be standing by. The forecast calls for heavy, wet snow that’s threatening to bring down trees, limbs and electrical equipment and possibly cause power failures, the utility said.

The state’s emergency operations center was to be activated at 6 a.m. Thursday to coordinate the state’s response to the storm, Malloy said.

In addition, the state was to delay opening offices until 10 a.m. for nonessential state employees, the governor said. Officials said they might announce earlier in the morning if offices would remain closed for the day, depending on how the storm shapes up.

The state legislature, disrupted by extreme weather for the second time in eight days, canceled committee meetings Thursday. A storm Feb. 5 delayed the start of the General Assembly’s annual session.