Brick Township’s Salt Stockpiled For Winter

The yard at DPW has two salt domes, with a combined 1,600 tons of salt. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

BRICK – A lot goes on behind the scenes while planning for snowstorms in the township with regards to equipment, manpower and supplies.

Brick has 390 miles of roads, many of which are waterfront roads built in the 1930s, and some 500 cul de sacs and dead-ends, which makes it “an unusual and difficult town to plow,” said Director of Public Works Glen Campbell.

“The streets are narrow and the trucks are large; that’s the conundrum,” he said from his office at the DPW on Ridge Road recently. “It’s hard to push 20 inches of snow in many of these streets.”

Preparation for snowstorms starts at the end of each winter, when an environmentally-friendly cleaning solution is applied to all the moving parts on the township’s salt spreaders. The solution is an anti-corrosive, anti-rust lubricant that removes all the salt before the equipment is stored on stilts and covered in the DPW yard.

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Technology for spreading salt changes all the time, Campbell said, and the fourth-generation spreaders now create a thick paste on the truck that has cut the township’s salt use by 45 percent.

“That is huge,” Campbell said. “It saves about $12,000 each time we salt.”

Another benefit of the paste, which prevents snow from sticking to the roads, is that it can be spread up to 24 hours before a snowstorm, which means the drivers don’t have to work at night and get overtime pay, he said.

Over the last 10 years, Campbell has attended snow and ice seminars about the technology at Rutgers University, and has even been a presenter at the program over the past three years since Brick “goes well-beyond what other towns do,” he said.

Brick has 28 township vehicles that can be used for snow removal, but after state-mandated spending caps were put in place in 2008, the DPW lost 61 employees to layoffs and attrition so there aren’t enough drivers, he said.

“We have township vehicles that are lined up and could be plowing but we don’t have enough staff,” Campbell said.

As a result, the township hires 50 or 60 contractor trucks; 35 are hired from an open and competitive bid, and the rest are private contractors.

“Guys come and go. We lose guys every year, so we always have our eyes and ears open all the time, looking for contractors,” he said. “We are in need of about a dozen more right now.”

There were some problems with a handful of contractors last year, who would not be asked back, said Mayor John G. Ducey.

“Some residents had complaints about how some curbs were destroyed, and about how they plowed, so we won’t be using them this year,” he said in a phone interview.

– Campbell said the snowplowing environment needs heavy-duty trucks that can handle 10 to 12 inches of snow. Contractors have to have the proper equipment and they have to have a certificate of liability and plow insurance, which is expensive.

There are seven different categories of pay for the contracted snow plowers; for example, a dump truck is paid $164 an hour, and a tandem truck gets $199 an hour.

The drivers get paid $75 an hour (up to three hours) for standing by after they are called by DPW staff, Campbell said.

“Once they get the call they’re on the clock,” he said. “Once they’re on the road the regular rates kick in, and we guarantee them eight hours of full pay.”

Campbell attends a pre-bid conference and contacts companies who have done work for the township in the past, but many of the larger contractors end up plowing for the State DOT (Department of Transportation) he said.

Brick has 52 different snow plowing routes that average about 15 miles in length. Each driver has a copy of the route book that lists the streets, and can help with a different route if needed, Campbell said.

“The township vehicles have a GPS system so we can track the vehicles. We can see them live what they’ve done and what remains to be done, so that’s helped,” he said.

It takes an average of 15 hours to plow four to 10 inches of snow off township roads, he added.

The township has budgeted $720,000 for outside contractors as well as $140,000 for snow and ice supplies, said Township Business Administrator Joanne Bergin. There is also $773,170 in the snow removal trust fund, which is money budgeted for snow removal in the past but hasn’t been used.

Every October the township drivers attend a workshop for a refresher course in how to calibrate the salt spreaders and to keep them up to date on changing systems, Campbell said.

“We are ready for snow, but we never want it,” he added.