BRICK – The salt houses are full, the plowing equipment is ready to go, and additional outside snow plows are ready for the call in preparation for the first snowstorm.
Interim Director of Public Works Ken Somers said the township has nine single-axle 30,000-pound dump trucks and four 70,000-pound tandem dump trucks that can spread the liquid calcium brine that are deployed 24 hours ahead of forecasted snow or ice.
“The brine keeps the pavement from freezing, so we don’t have to go down to the blacktop when we plow,” Somers explained.
Brick has 780 lane miles of roads to plow, comprised of 1,762 streets that include 301 dead ends and 522 cul-de-sacs, which increase the time it takes to clear the streets. (The township is not responsible for plowing private streets, county roads or state roads).
The township has 31 vehicles for plowing, and seven of the garbage trucks used for furniture pickup and leaf pickup could be added if needed. (Somers said that the 18 automated garbage trucks are not used for plowing because it could damage the trucks).
Trucks are sent out to plow when there is three inches of snow on the ground. First they concentrate on plowing 137 major arteries in town, and then the plows concentrate on opening all streets, curb to curb, he said.
For the typical winter storm, some four to nine inches fall, and it takes about two, 15-hour shifts to clear all the township roads, he said.
If needed, an additional 56 snow plowing contractors are on a list that are called when there’s about one inch of snow on the ground.
“We usually use the same contractors, but it’s not always the same drivers,” Somers said. Each driver gets a book containing the township’s 52 plow routes and a two-way phone/walkie talkie.
During a snowstorm, the DPW has one worker in a firehouse on the north side of town and one worker in a firehouse on the south side, who are equipped with a chainsaw and a backhoe to keep the firehouse clear. They are also in position in case of a fallen tree or to clean a nearby side street that’s blocked in, Somers aid.
On January 4, 2017, the shore experienced its first major snowstorm – a so-called “bomb cyclone,” – when there was an extreme drop in atmospheric pressure over a short period of time, resulting in hurricane-force strength and about 18 inches of snow in the township.
“We’re ready for anything,” Somers said. “All of our guys are utilized in each shift, and if a third shift is necessary we’ll keep going until the streets are clear,” Somers said.
That’s true, said Mayor John G. Ducey.
He said that after a yearly evaluation based on performance, a handful of plowing contractors were not rehired after the administration got complaints about trucks hitting curbs.
Somers asked that people move their cars out of the roads for snow plows, and that residents try not to shovel snow back into the streets, which can make the street look like it had not been plowed.