Nearly a decade after Superstorm Sandy ravaged Brick Township, bringing with it weeks of power outages and traffic tie-ups, an emergency plan cobbled together by officials then is being expanded as part of this year’s capital improvement plan.
Brick officials unanimously approved the township’s annual capital budget, which provides long-term financing for large purchases outside of the operating budget that supports the day-to-day work of the township. The capital budget includes routine appropriations for items such as street paving, police vehicles and building maintenance, but also sets aside funding for improvements in the township’s infrastructure. This year, the capital budget calls for the purchase of 26 generator setups for traffic signals in town.
“The police department came up with the idea back during Sandy,” said Mayor John Ducey.
The township received a number of generators in the aftermath of the storm, leading officials to utilize them to power multiple traffic lights at major intersections. The generators allowed the intersections to function normally, but more importantly, freed up police officers to respond to calls during the emergency.
“If you have to station a police officer at every major intersection, including places like the old Laurelton Circle, while you’re dealing with a natural disaster that requires rescues and all kinds of other demands, it’s crazy,” said Joanne Bergin, the township’s business administrator.
Brick does not own any traffic lights as a municipal government. Every traffic signal in Brick is either under the jurisdiction of Ocean County or the state Department of Transportation. Township officials, in 2012, initially received negative feedback from the state after generators were rigged up signals at a few intersections on Route 70, but after the storm, Trenton began endorsing the idea. It has since spread to several other communities across the state.
“The state gave us a hard time about it in the beginning, but then realized, ‘wow, this is actually a great idea,'” said Ducey.
The 26 units are not generators themselves – the township already owns several – but ports that are retrofitted onto the box that controls the traffic signal to allow an outside power source. The full list of intersections with generating capacity, as well as the final cost, will be determined when bids are solicited for the equipment.
“The boxes are going to make it a plug-in deal,” said Ducey. “Right now it requires a lot of work, running wires and setting everything up.”