Sunday February 10, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- Although the statewide driving ban was lifted on Saturday, officials are still asking motorists to "use common sense and be safe."

As news spread that drivers were able to navigate the plowed roads, more and more people ventured out into the snow.

Jeff Tao and his family were anxiously waiting to hear if they could still go on their ski trip Saturday morning, fearful of an repercussions from driving while the ban was still in effect.

"Our original plan was to ski Saturday and Sunday, but that didn’t work; we had to cancel our accommodations for Friday night," he said.

Once the ban was lifted however, he and approximately 30 friends and family members from New Rochelle, N.Y., ventured out to Jiminy Peak.

"This is the biggest snow in years and we were so excited," he said. "It was a huge relief when the governor lifted to ban so we could make our trip."

The ban, which went into effect Friday at 4 p.m., was lifted for Nantucket County and all the communities west of I-91 as weather conditions calmed following the blizzard that left some areas in the Berkshires with nearly 2 feet of snow.

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier had asked Patrick to lift the ban in Berkshire County earlier Saturday after the snowfall ended and highway crews worked around the clock to clear roads and make it safe for drivers.

"It’s practically blue skies here and a lot of local businesses are anxious to open," she told The Eagle. "Especially our ski areas, which haven’t had a lot of snow this season."

Drivers were asked to stay off the roads Saturday and Sunday unless necessary, so that plow truck drivers, utility personnel and emergency crews can get to where they need to.

Officials said the ban severely limited crashes and allowed highway crews, plow trucks, and emergency crews to get where they needed to.

Instead of fielding phone calls reporting various motor accidents related to the storm, emergency dispatchers said nearly all the calls were people asking when the ban was going to be lifted.

Only one minor accident in Cheshire was reported between Friday and Saturday, where accumulation in the Berkshires was up to an inch per hour.

To reach Josh Stilts:
jstilts@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6243.
On Twitter: @JoshStilts