The Jan. 4 snowstorm dropped 16 inches of snow – along with a hefty bill for Ocean County taxpayers.
The storm proved difficult to manage due to frigid temperatures that stalled trucks, to 50 m.p.h. winds that left snow flying across Barnegat Bay and piling up on the county’s two barrier islands. In all, the storm cost an estimated $725,000 in supplies, equipment and overtime. Freeholder Director Gerry Little said the greatest share of the cost estimates – $675,000 – was in the Road Department. Included in that total was more than $337,000 for materials, $191,000 for overtime and $35,000 for subcontractors.
Ocean County operates the largest county road network in the state, with 630 total miles to plow.
“This was our first blizzard in several years, plus the frigid temperatures and high winds made the cleanup especially difficult,” Little said.
Prior to the storm, the county had on hand 25,000 tons of salt and 10,000 gallons of liquid calcium. More than 3,700 tons of salt was used during the storm along with 4,150 gallons of liquid calcium.
Little noted that the one could drive to Syracuse, N.Y. and back, and still not have traveled as far as every county road put together.
“People don’t realize how tough it is on trucks to plow,” said Freeholder John Bartlett. “You’ve got clutches, engines, the undercarriage of the plow itself, and it breaks down like there’s no tomorrow. We’ve got to keep all that stuff running.”
During a major snowstorm Ocean County, at any given time, has roughly 200 pieces of equipment on the county roads in addition to the private contractors that are called in to assist with salting and plowing operations. The county also lent a helping hand to residents who found themselves stranded in their vehicles and also to essential services workers like doctors and nurses who had to get to work.