• Mass. returns to work, greeted by freezing rain


    NATICK, Mass. (AP) — Beleaguered Massachusetts residents returned to work on Monday for the first time since the weekend blizzard, crawling along narrow snow-covered secondary roads and being greeted by a new wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain.

    Most schools were closed, and more than 110,000 customers remained without power mostly on the South Shore and Cape Cod, thanks to a blizzard that dropped up to 3 feet of snow on same places.

    Highways were relatively clear early in the morning commute, but quickly backed up once it started raining.

    Many secondary roads still had a thick coating of snow, and high snow banks that block sight lines at intersections and near highway ramps made turning and merging hazardous.

    Parking spots in the city were filled with snow and many two lane roads were down to one.

    "It was definitely a struggle to get here," said Dana Osterling, 24, who lives in Leverett in western Massachusetts and commutes to Boston twice a week to attend Berklee College of Music.

    "I live on a dirt road so the plows don't visit us very often," she said at a service plaza in Natick on the Massachusetts Turnpike. She and her six housemates shoveled for about three hours to free their cars Sunday.

    Osterling and others agreed that traffic on the Pike was lighter than normal, perhaps because school was closed in most communities and many people decided to stay home.

    That was a blessing for Dave Frauenhofer, 40, of Avon, Conn.

    He and a co-worker, who both work for a banking software company, had to drive to suburban Boston to make a presentation.

    He wasn't sure he'd make it. He lives in a condominium complex and the lot hadn't been plowed when he went to bed at 11:30 p.m. Sunday. When he woke up at 6 a.m., he could get out.

    "Life goes on," he said.

    Aurea Santiago, of Shrewsbury, drove into work at a Boston bank. The worst part was the side roads, she said.

    "A couple of the lanes are pretty narrow," she said. "If you get in the wrong lane it's pretty dicey."

    State officials urged commuters to take public transportation when possible. The MBTA's regularly scheduled service resumed Monday, but some trolley and commuter rail lines were experiencing 15- to 20-minute delays due to signal problems and weather-related issues.

    Gov. Deval Patrick visited some of the hardest hit communities on Monday, including Scituate and Marshfield, where coastal flooding forced many people from their homes and others waited for power to be restored.

    The state's utilities had been criticized for their slow response and poor communication during previous storms, but Patrick said it was too early to assess the response to the latest storm. While communication has been better, many people are still without electricity.

    "If you're without power it's not going fast enough," he said.

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