Two More Snowstorms, Then We Worry About Road Salt in Ocean County
Ocean County has enough road salt stored to keep the roads clear for two more snow events, says a top county official. They're shopping for more, but they're in the same hunt as officials throughout the state who have been overwhelmed by this year's storm activity.
"We're about halfway through winter and we need a lot more," Freeholder Director Joe Vicari told WOBM News, "but there's really no answer to it. It's an act of nature. But I want residents of Ocean County to know that our...roads will be a safe as possible."
Roads Supervisor Tom Curcio and his staff have logged inordinately long shifts keeping 200 vehicles moving along the county's 1,600 lane miles of highway. The county is also sending supplies and personnel to those of its 33 municipalities that have been caught short.
To date, snow-clearance expenses hover around the $1,000,000 mark. Vicari points out that it isn't all spent on salt and chemicals. "It's the overtime, the wear and tear on the trucks. All these things create an impact."
Vicari adds that the cost mounts even higher when storms arrive on weekends, holidays, or in the middle of the night. "Our trucks are on the road, sometimes, 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning," he confided. "The fellows are doing a great job, they're getting overtime. Sometimes private contractors come in when we don't have enough trucks to do it ourselves."
He said that road clearance is beyond a priority, it's an imperative, and for two reasons. "One is safety," Vicari continued. "The other is - people have to get to work. We can't shut the county down. People who work in hospitals, emergency services, police and firefighters - they all have to go to work every single day. Many people in Ocean County work elsewhere. They drive 45 minutes to work, even more. We're aware of that."
Vicari believes that Ocean County's good relations with state government will be a valuable asset for the rest of the cold months. However, some lower-level governments have already gone to the Department of Transportation and been turned down, because DOT is conserving what it has left as well.