NJDOT Readies for 1996-1997 Snow Season
No one ever really knows what nature has in store for us. In some parts of the country winter has already arrivedwith a vengeance. The unexpected snowfall in the Great Lakes region earlier this month that had residents digging out from feet of snow is but a mere reminder that winter in New Jersey is looming. Remember last year when the state received its first significant snowfall just after Thanksgiving?
With this in mind, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) stands ready for what ever nature hurls our way this winter season. And, if last year's recordbreaking snowfall is any measure, the NJDOT expects to be busy again.
NJDOT has doubled its salt storage capacity since 1994, for a total of 141,000 tons. Crews are being trained for snow emergencies and NJDOT has undertaken an aggressive maintenance and repair program so that equipment and vehicles are in top shape for the winter.
"Last winter was perhaps the most severe on record," noted Commissioner Frank J. Wilson. "Did NJDOT meet that challenge? We most certainly did. But we're not going to rest on our laurels -- we're going to make every effort to do an even better job. New Jersey residents deserve no less."
Residents can help NJDOT by following a few simple procedures to ensure that snow doesn't block their driveway when plows clear the roads. In clearing driveways, snow should not be thrown or placed onto a state highway, which is illegal. When the end of a driveway is reached, a portion of the shoulder immediately adjacent to the driveway should be cleared of snow. This clearing will provide a space where snow from a plow truck can be deposited prior to reaching the driveway and will leave it clear of snow. The clearing must be created toward oncoming traffic (see attached diagram).
NJDOT also reminds residents to remove parked vehicles on state highways during inclement winter weather to aid salting and plowing operations. Although local ordinances may permit parking on some state highways under normal conditions, parking is prohibited on those highways during emergency conditions.
As a corridor state for vehicular traffic throughout the Northeast as well as a popular seaboard tourist and trade state, New Jersey's highways are among the most heavily traveled in the country. In fact, New Jersey already has the highest number of vehicles per capita in the nation and is first in the number of vehicles per square miles and per mile of highway.
In addition to the 141,000 tons of salt stockpiled, NJDOT also has over 600,000 gallons of liquid calcium and 10,000 tons of abrasives to make sure New Jersey's 10,735 lane miles of roads remain safe for drivers. NJDOT has 800 plows and sand/salt spreaders ready to tackle a snow or ice storm, and can call on up to 1,000 contractor plows to assist with major storms.
NJDOT has also increased to 25 the number of special weather sensor stations situated at key locations across the state. The stations are located by bridges and have gauges to measure the presence and intensity of precipitation, air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, and whether the pavement is wet, icy or covered with snow. Having this information ensures a timely response to storm conditions as they are occurring.
Since March, the NJDOT has maintained a special toll free hotline for the public to use to report potholes. This number -- 1-800-POTHOLE -- is still in service and NJDOT encourages residents to use it.
"While no one would like to see another winter like last year's," Commissioner Wilson said, "we're ready for whatever comes our way. When it comes to winter weather, we follow a simple guideline: hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. In every area, we are ready."