Office of the Governor
Whitman Says NJDOT Ready
for Winter's Worst Expanded Emergency
Service Patrol Routes Will Assist Stranded Motorists
Like the rites of spring, or in this case winter, Gov. Christie Whitman made her annual inspection of the New Jersey Department of Transportation's Secaucus maintenance yard as the department completes its preparations for the upcoming 2000-2001 winter weather season. Falling temperatures remind us that the chill of winter is close at hand and Gov. Whitman, accompanied by Transportation Commissioner James Weinstein, saw an array of snow fighting equipment and materials at the yard along the Hackensack River.
Gov. Christie Whitman and Transportation Commissioner James Weinstein tour the New Jersey Department of Transportation's Secaucus maintenance yard
"Even though the last three winters have been relatively tame we know that we cannot be lulled into a false sense of security. New Jersey's climate is as diverse as its geography and being situated along the coast we are susceptible to some of Mother Nature's fiercest storms. It stands to reason that we must be ready to face the worst winter has to offer," Gov. Whitman said.
"The fact is that we can never fully know what to expect in a winter season. In New Jersey, it can be snowing up at High Point, sleeting in the Meadowlands and raining in Cape May all from the same storm. Whatever we may be facing - a mild winter, a severe winter or something in between - our situation calls for us to be ready at all times," Commissioner Weinstein added.
To aid motorists throughout the winter and as the Thanksgiving holiday travel season gets underway, Gov. Whitman announced that the NJDOT has permanently expanded its Emergency Service Patrol routes in the northern and southern parts of the state.
"ESP crews are on the front lines of our efforts to provide services to motorists who use our roads," said Whitman. "This program has assisted more than 180,000 travelers since it began in 1992. While ESP crews help reduce congestion by taking disabled vehicles off the roads, perhaps the greatest benefit is the help they provide to those who are most vulnerable when stranded - senior citizens, families with small children and women traveling alone."
Commissioner Weinstein said the $5.7 million federally funded ESP program is expanding by a total of 78 miles throughout the state and will now cover all of I-295 and I-95 in the south and the majority of I-287 in the north. A fact sheet with the complete route expansion is attached.
ESP provides assistance to stranded motorists and disabled vehicles. ESP vans and trucks are painted white with orange lettering, and are equipped with cell phones, first aid kits, jacks, traffic cones, fire extinguishers and tools for minor repairs. ESP drivers wear orange uniforms and carry official NJDOT identification.
Changing flat tires is the most common type of assistance given by the ESP driver, followed by providing gas, jump-starting dead batteries and giving directions to lost motorists. The ESP program statewide assists between 22,000-23,000 motorists annually, Commissioner Weinstein said.
The NJDOT begins the snow season with approximately 150,000 tons of rock salt on hand for use on New Jersey's nearly 16,000 lane miles of interstate and state highways, including ramps and shoulder lanes. NJDOT also has 692,000 gallons of liquid calcium on hand, which is mixed in with the salt to increase its effectiveness.
The department utilizes 32 remote weather sensor stations along the state highway system that provide detailed information on weather and road conditions in specific regions of the state. The data provided by these stations includes air temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, road and bridge surface temperatures, whether the pavement is wet or dry, whether the salt has been applied and the type and intensity of precipitation.
These weather stations augment weather forecasts supplied by NJDOT by a weather forecasting company.
"For a compact state, we can experience a wide variety of weather," Weinstein noted. "The remote weather sensor stations allow us to tailor our salting and plowing activities based on the conditions in the local area."
The NJDOT has 637 pieces of equipment ready to plow snow and spread salt, including trucks, graders and loaders. In the event of a major storm, NJDOT can augment its forces with up to 1,100 contractor plows. Contractors have been assigned specific highway segments and will be called out on an as-needed basis.
In addition to the NJDOT's force of 760 regular maintenance staff, the department has nearly 500 volunteer plow operators, drawn from the ranks of the state workforce, it can call out if needed. Volunteers must possess a commercial driver's license and undergo special training for the safe operation of snow plows and salt-spreading equipment.
The NJDOT also coordinates snow removal activities with the state's other transportation agencies and State Police from its Emergency Control Center, or Snow Room, located at department headquarters in Ewing Township. During a major snowstorm, representatives from NJ Transit, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, New Jersey Highway Authority (Garden State Parkway), South Jersey Transportation Authority (Atlantic City Expressway) and State Police, staff the Snow Room to report problems immediately to NJDOT Snow Room staff, who can then quickly dispatch resources to help the hardest hit areas.
To assist the NJDOT in its salting and plowing operations, motorists are reminded that parking along state highways is prohibited during storms. Individual driveways are not plowed or cleared by NJDOT forces. To prevent driveways from becoming blocked from plowed snow, residents should clear a portion of the highway shoulder immediately adjacent to their driveway. This provides an area where snow from the plow truck can be deposited prior to reaching the driveway.
2000-2001 NJDOT WINTER PREPARATION FACTS
Materials & Facilities
150,000 tons of rock salt on hand at beginning of 2000-2001 winter season.
692,000 gallons of liquid calcium (used to increase the effectiveness of salt) on hand.
5,800 tons of abrasives on hand.
Additional materials deliveries are scheduled as needed.
73 maintenance yards (including winter-only yards) across the state.
74 salt storage facilities statewide, including 47 domars and 27 sheds.
637 pieces of NJDOT snow fighting equipment, including trucks w/plows, graders and loaders.
1,100 contractor plows available in the event of a major storm.
190 additional pieces of contractor equipment, including graders and loaders.
32 remote roadway weather sensing stations across the state.
760 regular NJDOT maintenance staff.
473 trained volunteers drawn from other NJDOT divisions or other state agencies.
Volunteers must possess a CDL and undergo special equipment training.
$11.2 million budgeted for snow removal, including materials and overtime.
Nearly 16,000 lane miles of highway, including shoulders and ramps, NJDOT is responsible for plowing.
609-530-2125 -- a special phone number the media can call during snow events for information.
1999-2000 -- $13.1 million spent, 85,500 tons of salt spread, 24 inches snow statewide
1998-1999 -- $13.4 million spent, 86,000 tons of salt spread, 14 inches snow statewide
1997-1998 -- $7.6 million spent, 46,000 tons of salt spread, 8.9 inches snow statewide
1996-1997 -- $13 million spent, 98,000 tons of salt spread, 16.8 inches snow statewide
1995-1996 -- $40 million spent, 218,000 tons of salt spread, 83 inches snow statewid
NJDOT EMERGENCY SERVICE PATROL FACT SHEET
NJDOT's Emergency Service Patrol program commenced in 1992. Since its inception, the program has aided approximately 184,000 motorists. On average, the north and south ESP units each assist 11,500 motorists annually. ESP provides aid to disabled vehicles and stranded motorists. ESP vans and trucks are painted white with orange lettering and are equipped with first aid kits, jacks, traffic cones, fire extinguishers and tools for minor repairs. ESP drivers wear bright orange uniforms and carry official identification badges.
Both patrols will be expanding geographically with the mileage patrolled increasing from 122 miles to 200 miles.
ESP South (Gloucester & Camden Counties)
All of I-676 and 76
Northern 10 miles of Route 55 (Route 322 to Route 42)
Northern 8 miles of Route 42 (AC Expressway to I-76)
I-295 from Exit 22 to Exit 40
ESP North (Morris, Passaic, Essex, Bergen and Somerset Counties)
I-80 from Milepost 27.0 to 68.1 (Route 206 to I-95 / NJ Turnpike)
I-280 from Milepost 0.0 to 16.9 (I-80 to NJ Turnpike)
I-287 from Milepost 22.0 to 44.1 (Route 202/206 to I-80)
ESP South (Burlington & Mercer Counties)
The rest of I-295 (Exit 40 to Exit 67)
All of I-95
Southern 2 miles of Route 29 (Duck Island to I-295)
Western 7 miles of I-195 (I-295 to NJ Turnpike)
ESP North (Morris, Passaic, Essex, Bergen, Somerset and Middlesex Counties)
I-287 from Milepost 0.0 to 53.0 (Route 440 to Route 23)
Route 440 from Milepost 0.0 to 4.0 (I-287 to Outerbridge Crossing)
Hours of Operation:
4:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and expanded hours on most holidays.
The number of personnel will increase from 32 to 54 statewide. Both patrols will continue to operate out of their existing headquarters (Cherry Hill in the South and Hanover in the North).
The number of trucks associated with the patrol will increase statewide from 19 to 31.
Costs of this federally funded program will increase from $4 million to $5.7 million.