OCEAN COUNTY – With the winter’s first significant snowfall predicted to hit late Thursday and early Friday, Ocean County’s road crews are gearing up to remove whatever Mother Nature decides to leave behind.
“Right now the forecast is calling for only 1 to 3 inches of snow,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little. “But as we all know, even a small amount of snow can cause a big mess.”
Little said the Ocean County Road Department and Bridge Departments are monitoring the storm and will be ready for whatever snow falls. Officials are also watching a second possible storm that could bring more snow late on Saturday.
“Our fleet of more than 200 trucks and other vehicles and about 175 employees from the Road and Bridge departments are ready to go,” said Little, who is liaison to both departments.
Crews will spend much of Thursday readying salt spreaders and making sure enough plows are attached to trucks.
The first brine trucks will also hit the road Thursday morning, spreading the mixture of road salt and water along 1,600 lane-miles of county roads, Little said.
“Brine is a cost-effective way of keeping snow from piling up on the roads,” said county Road Supervisor J. Thomas Curcio. “Coating the road surface with brine before the snow starts falling makes it easier to plow later.”
At about 8 or 9 cents a gallon, it’s also much cheaper than liquid calcium.
The county mixes brine at three 10,000-gallon tanks located at garages in Plumsted, Toms River and Stafford townships.
Six tanker trucks deliver the mixture. The largest truck, a 5,500-gallon tractor trailer, can cover Route 539 in brine from Plumsted to Tuckerton and back, Curcio said.
While brine is an excellent option for storms where forecasts call for the precipitation to begin as snow, it doesn’t work for storms that begin as rain and later change to snow.
“The rain washes it away very quickly,” Curcio said.
If enough snow falls to warrant plowing, the first of the county roads to be cleared are the 500 series, which includes such main roads as Hooper Avenue in Toms River Township, and Route 571, which travels through Toms River Township to Jackson Township. In Southern Ocean County, those roads include Route 539.
“We start with these main roads and work our way to the secondary roads,” Curcio said.
Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said the Road Department is also responsible for clearing all the county parking lots including the vocational-technical centers, the resource centers, Transportation Department, and libraries.
The Road Department is assisted by other county departments including Solid Waste Management and Parks and Recreation.
“It’s a cooperative effort on the part of the County to make certain our residents are safe,” Vicari said. “The cooperation makes for a much smoother and efficient operation.”