New Jersey snow highlights uncleared roads, salt shortages

Toni Yates reports
February 18, 2014 5:31:03 PM PST
New Jersey was whacked with another round of winter weather that made for a messy morning commute Tuesday, and the snowfall is highlighting uncleared roads and salt shortages throughout the Garden State.

A winter weather advisory was in effect for most areas though the mid-afternoon as 1 to 5 inches of accumulation fell, with northern and central areas seeing the higher totals.

But relief came quickly as the snow changed over to freezing rain and rain as temperatures rose into the high 30s and low 40s.

Drivers were urged to use caution, as roadways remain slippery. This is in part due to a lack of salt available to treat the roadways. And one of the reasons for that is a foreign transport ship docked in Maine that is waiting for permission to transport 40,000 tons of rock salt to Port Newark.

The ship was supposed to be headed to New Jersey, but it is waiting for a federal waiver before departing to for Newark because it is not carrying an American flag. Apparently, once a foreign ship docks at a U.S. port, it cannot dock at another U.S. port without a federal waiver.

The New Jersey State Department of Transportation only filed its application for a waiver Thursday night. When that was not immediately approved, they sent a smaller ship to Maine to try to retrieve some of the salt. That barge will carry 9,500 tons of salt to Port Newark, arriving this weekend. The DOT will likely then send the barge back to Maine to get more salt. Senators Robert Menedez and Cory Booker have sent requests in the hopes of expediting the process.

Meanwhile, the state dot has been promised 155,000 tons from its supplier, International Salt, by the end of this month. That salt will come from oversees.

This has been a taxing year for salt usage. The state had used 372,000 tons of salt on state roads by February 11. For comparison, they used 258,000 tons all of last year. Other municipalities were turning to private contractors to purchase salt at quite a markup.

And with all of the mounting snow, there's a new effort to clear the streets. In towns like Jersey City, parking has been banned on stretches of a dozen roads from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Wednesday or until the snow is gone.

Police will go with the plows to warn people to move their cars.

The roadways include:

  • Central Avenue from North Street to Manhattan Avenue
  • Sip Avenue from Enos Place to Westside Avenue
  • Montgomery Street from Orchard Street to Summit Avenue
  • Ocean Avenue from Kearny to Warner
  • Newark Avenue from Summit Avenue to Tonnelle Avenue
  • Bergen Avenue from Academy to Fairview
  • MLK Drive from Virginia Avenue to Wade Street
  • West Side Avenue from Duncan Avenue to Communipaw Avenue
  • Summit Avenue from Sip Avenue to Pavonia Avenue
  • Monticello Avenue from Jewett Avenue to Storms Avenue
  • Bergen Avenue from Woodlawn Avenue to Stegman Street
  • Newark Avenue from Palisade Avenue to Marin Boulevard

    Once the above phase is completed, crews will begin removing snow from the following streets, which is expected later in the day Wednesday:

  • Christopher Columbus Drive from Marin Boulevard to Hudson Street
  • JFK Boulevard from Secaucus Road to Thorne Street
  • Communipaw Avenue from Suydam to Mallory Avenue
  • Ocean Avenue from Merritt to Danforth Avenue
  • Palisade Avenue from Booraem to Griffith Street
  • Broadway from Tonelle to US 1&9
  • Bergen Avenue from Union Street to Welch Lane (D/E)
  • Danforth Avenue from Ocean Avenue to Old Bergen Road
  • Bergen Avenue from Bramhall to Sackett
  • Old Bergen Road from Danforth Avenue to Pearsall Avenue
  • Paterson Plank Road & Central Avenue - North to Hague & Summit
  • Westside Avenue from Broadway to Jewett Avenue
  • Ocean Avenue from Myrtle to Danforth Avenue
  • Westside Avenue from Audubon to Danforth Avenue
  • Newark Avenue from Waldo to Summit Avenue
  • Westside Avenue from Harrison to Audubon Avenue
  • Mallory Avenue from Fisk to Communipaw Avenue
  • JFK Boulevard from Stevens Avenue to the Bayonne Border

    The heavy snow was also causing roofs to collapse around the area. The roof of the vacant warehouse caved in from the weight of the snow on East Main Street in Somerville around 10 a.m. Monday, across the street from the Somerville Court House.

    The entire roof of the one-story structure, formerly Somerville Aluminum, collapsed down onto the ground floor. No one was injured, but some street closures were reported around the area.

    Then on Monday afternoon, a roof collapsed at a strip mall in Monroe. It happened at the Park Plaza Shopping Complex at 475 Spotswood Englishtown Road.

    The collapse actually started last Thursday, with a crack in the facade pushing the structure out toward into the street. It was a slow collapse, but the bulk of it happened on Monday.