While the Ocean County Road Department is currently focusing its snow cleanup efforts on the southern part of the County at this time, Ocean County officials say the County stands ready to meet all its winter needs across the entire county.
“Ocean County is prepared to handle winter weather whether it be snow, ice, a wintry mix or storms,” said the incoming Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners John P. Kelly. “Our County departments work in partnership to assure safety on our roads and continued accessibility to our programs and services.”
According to Ocean County Road Supervisor Scott Waters, road crews, as of this morning, are focusing on the southern part of the County, from Lacey Road south during the Jan. 3 storm.
“We are seeing an accumulation of a slushy mix on our roads. We have already put down salt and we are plowing County roads in areas that need it,” he said. “We will continue to monitor the weather throughout the day and address areas that may be receiving snow or a wintry mix.”
The Ocean County Road Department and Bridge Department can mobilize a fleet of about 200 trucks and other vehicles and about 175 employees to salt and clear roads when the weather turns bad.
Prior to the winter months, crews spend their time readying salt spreaders and making sure enough plows are attached to trucks.
When temperatures drop and rain is not part of the forecast, snow clearing usually first entails brining the 1,600 plus lane miles of county roads by spreading a mixture of road salt and water.
“Brine is a cost-effective way of keeping snow from piling up on the roads,” Waters said. “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, Waters said.
“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,” Waters said. “The rain washes it away very quickly. We didn’t brine for the Jan. 3 snow because it was raining beforehand and the temperatures were in the high 50s.”
The county is also prepared with 30,000 tons of treated salt. The county uses salt treated with calcium chloride which does a better job when clearing snow and ice.
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,” Waters said.
The Ocean County 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, Buildings and Grounds and Parks and Recreation.
“It’s a cooperative effort on the part of the County to make certain our residents are safe,” Kelly said. “The cooperation makes for a much smoother and efficient operation.”
The Ocean County Department of Buildings and Grounds is responsible for clearing snow and ice from the County’s 135 government buildings.
Ocean County Commissioner Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Department of Buildings and Grounds, said County government continues to operate even during storms.
“We have to continue to serve the public no matter what,” Vicari said. “Getting areas around our buildings shoveled and salted allows us to continue to provide services to our citizens while keeping the staff safe.”
Weather in Ocean County differs from one area to the next.
“Coastal areas tend to have rain because of warmer ocean temperatures,” Waters said. “Inland we will see more snow especially to the northwest like Jackson and Plumsted townships.
“We watch the weather closely because it’s always changing and we need to know what our approach will be,” he said. “We are really in good shape for winter.”