CHICAGO (CBS) — So far, the Chicago area has had only a dusting of snow.
But as WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, Metra says it is ready to battle another blizzard — if one occurs.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports
Metra began planning for this winter’s effort back when the temperatures were in the 90s. In part because of the February blizzard, Metra is spending more this winter on snow-fighting, and will activate its emergency plans sooner — anytime six inches or more of snow is even forecast.
A snow command center will be opened, and managers on all of its commuter rail lines will be linked by conference call to make sure preparations are complete.
Metra Deputy Executive Director George Hardwidge said the response can and will be better tailored to what’s happening on a specific line, and in a specific area. He said that when snow is blinding at the lakefront, it can be sunny in the western suburbs.
The commuter rail agency will have fuel ready at key locations and outer terminals for refueling around the clock, something that is normally done during midday hours downtown. Hardwidge said it has installed more hot-air blowers at key switches to keep them from freezing up and allow trains on diverging or converging lines to keep moving. Hardwidge said trains will be de-iced, more snow plows and jets will be deployed and portable power generators will be standing by.
Although Metra was criticized in some quarters for service that all but halted in the teeth of the Feb. 1 snow, it was back in operation a day later.