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updated: 2/5/2014 8:48 PM

Another day, another set of winter delays

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  • Video: Snowy travel by bike

  • Rich Carlson of Des Plaines said he was riding, and mostly pushing, his bike on a 6-mile trip for exercise on Golf Road on Thursday in Des Plaines.

       Rich Carlson of Des Plaines said he was riding, and mostly pushing, his bike on a 6-mile trip for exercise on Golf Road on Thursday in Des Plaines.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Snow falling faster than the plows could move it caused major traffic delays on the eastbound Jane Addams expressway Wednesday morning.

       Snow falling faster than the plows could move it caused major traffic delays on the eastbound Jane Addams expressway Wednesday morning.
    Jeff Knox | Staff Photographer

  • Jeff Lennard and his wife Val shovel snow in front of their Elgin home Wednesday morning.

       Jeff Lennard and his wife Val shovel snow in front of their Elgin home Wednesday morning.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Gustavo Ernandes rides his bicycle to work on Lee Street in Des Plaines on Wednesday.

       Gustavo Ernandes rides his bicycle to work on Lee Street in Des Plaines on Wednesday.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • John Gerlach blows snow at a neighbor's house with friend Bob Rogers (not pictured) in Geneva Wednesday morning. "We do the neighborhood," he said. "We're both retired and we love being outdoors. We're getting a little bit old, but what the heck. Our wives look out the windows every 10 minutes to see if we're still upright."

       John Gerlach blows snow at a neighbor's house with friend Bob Rogers (not pictured) in Geneva Wednesday morning. "We do the neighborhood," he said. "We're both retired and we love being outdoors. We're getting a little bit old, but what the heck. Our wives look out the windows every 10 minutes to see if we're still upright."
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Traffic moves slowly looking north toward Oak Brook from Route 83 and Chicago Avenue.

       Traffic moves slowly looking north toward Oak Brook from Route 83 and Chicago Avenue.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • A driver waits to have his car pulled out from a snowbank along Route 176 in Island Lake. Wednesday morning's commute was hampered by overnight snowfall.

       A driver waits to have his car pulled out from a snowbank along Route 176 in Island Lake. Wednesday morning's commute was hampered by overnight snowfall.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Wauconda resident Steve Ford shovels his driveway along Osage Street Wednesday morning.

       Wauconda resident Steve Ford shovels his driveway along Osage Street Wednesday morning.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Worst winter

    Graphic: Worst winter

 
 

Another snow ordeal created train-sicles and plane-sicles in the region and made travel miserable Wednesday with delays on Metra and cancellations at both airports.

Metra reported trains late by to 85 minutes on one Union Pacific line Wednesday evening, while more than 500 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport and about 50 at Midway.

Winds gusting up to 25 mph blew snow over numerous roads, with the Illinois Department of Transportation saying at one point that the "majority" of the state's roads were snow and ice covered thanks to the storm that extended from southwestern Illinois to the Wisconsin state line.

About 4 to 6 inches of snow fell in the suburbs with the worst tapering off in the afternoon. Bitter temperatures are expected to follow the storm. Forecasters say wind chills in some area could sink to 30 degrees below zero on Thursday.

On Wednesday, snow and ice on the rails caused switch problems and other mechanical issues for Metra while late equipment and vehicles floundering on the tracks also snarled travel.

During the early evening, Metra reported delays of nearly 1 hours on the Union Pacific North Line for trains heading to the suburbs because of switching problems near the Ogilvie Transportation Center.

The morning Metra commute was also tough on the Milwaukee North, Union Pacific Northwest and SouthWest Service with delays of 55, 60 and 55 minutes, respectively, on some trains. Scattered delays remained in the afternoon.

Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said the rail line "had an assortment of switching issues," notably just outside of Ogilvie Transportation Center in Chicago, which delayed all UP line trains 15-20 minutes. Two cars stuck on the tracks in Arlington Heights delayed trains on the Union Pacific Northwest Line in the morning and gates stuck down at Prospect Avenue in Clarendon Hills on the BNSF line caused delays all day, a malfunction Gillis attributed to ComEd.

Adam Yoksas, waiting for his BNSF train in Downers Grove, usually drives to Chicago but "I thought I'd take the train today," he said. "It's better than the roads." His trip to the train station took twice the time it usually does with unplowed neighborhood streets making for a treacherous drive.

Lou Bury is a 30-year Metra commuter and thinks "this winter has been the worst performance by Metra by far. I blame incompetence," he added.

His morning train was late Wednesday, but "it's late every day," the frustrated commuter said. "It's very difficult to plan your personal and professional life around a commuting system that's very unreliable."

Bury understands weather-related slowdowns on a day like Wednesday, but he's bothered by "awful communications. The alerts are inaccurate. The website is inaccurate. When you're on the train there's no communication."

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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