New Jerseyans face rough evening commute as snow falls; state of emergency remains in place



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TRENTON, New Jersey — New Jerseyans already facing a difficult evening commute with Thursday's snows had to contend with rail problems Thursday evening as well.

New Jersey Transit said service was suspended on its Northeast Corridor line at its Princeton Junction, Hamilton and Trenton stations due to Amtrak overhead wire problems. Cross-honoring was in effect for all NJ Transit lines throughout the day and evening.

Police said the driver of a car died in a crash with a pickup on Route 28 in Raritan Thursday. The name of the victim has not been released and the accident is under investigation.

By the middle of the day, state troopers had responded to 151 motor vehicle incidents, mostly in the northern part of the state.

Speed was reduced to 35 mph on the New Jersey Turnpike and Atlantic City Expressway. It's 35 mph from Exit 30 north on the Garden State Parkway and 45 mph from Exit 30 south.

The Transportation Department had deployed more than 2,500 plows and spreaders.

The snow was to taper off Thursday night and frigid temperatures follow.


STATE OF EMERGENCY:

Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency and asked motorists to stay off the roads, if possible.

State offices closed, along with most schools.

While Christie's Twitter account was releasing storm details and safety tips, the governor himself was traveling to Georgia to attend an American Enterprise Institute forum.

Christie will deliver the keynote speech to the Palm Beach County Republican Lincoln Day dinner in Florida on Friday.

The potential Republican presidential candidate will get a taste of winter on Saturday when he appears at an agriculture summit in Iowa.


SNOW REMOVAL:

New Jersey's tight budget could affect the state's snow removal funding.

That's because the $33.8 billion budget Christie sent the Legislature for fiscal year 2016 cuts funding for snow removal by $44 million.

Treasury spokesman Joseph Perone said that cut reflects a one-time cash infusion from fiscal year 2015 that the governor is not carrying into 2016.

A message left for the Transportation Department about how the cut could affect operations was not immediately returned.

Christie's budget cuts transportation funding by $118 million, from $1.41 billion to $1.29 billion. He has also said the state has enough cash to pay for the troubled transportation trust fund through June 2016.

Whether the cuts go into effect depends on the Legislature. Lawmakers are planning hearings on the 2016 budget next week.


AT HOME, WORKING:

The snowstorm forced the closure of the offices of the Lakewood BlueClaws, a minor-league Philadelphia Phillies affiliate at the Jersey shore, but staffers were pitching ticket plans from their homes as the flakes fell.

"'Frustrating' is a good word for it," said Jim McNamara, the team's vice president of tickets. "People want this to be over. We're telling people our opening day is five weeks from today, we're talking about spring training being underway already and games being played. There's a light at the end of the tunnel. Spring will be here soon and baseball will be right behind that."

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