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Mad Scramble for Road Salt Continues in NJ

As New Jersey gets pounded by another winter storm, many towns across the Garden State are running low on their road salt supplies.

truck gathering salt
Julie Denesha, Getty Images

Right before the flakes started flying, Secaucus mayor Michael Gonnelli was told two new shipments of road salt had just been delivered.

“We were fortunate today and I had my fingers crossed, I was praying all night that it would happen,” Gonnelli said. “It’s not easy coming and it seems to me that they’re rationing it — they’re giving it a little bit to each of us.”

Mary Goepfert, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, said the agency will listen to concerns about the salt shortage.

“If anyone is at a critical juncture, we would work with them and work with the DOT to let them know that there are issues in that area,” Goepfert said.

She added, if municipal officials indicate they do not have adequate supplies of road salt to keep the streets clear, officials will work together to make ensure public safety.

“Public safety officials will work together with the emergency management officials, with public works, with the different departments in town to make decisions that will be in the best interest of public safety,” Goepfert said.

Meanwhile Gov. Chris Christie is monitoring the situation very closely.

“I know that a lot of municipalities are challenged right now in terms of salt, as are some of the counties, as is the state because this has been a brutal winter where it’s never really gotten warmer,” Christie said, “so the natural melting away of snow and ice has not happened and so we’ve been using, at every level of government, more and more salt.”

Christie assured the public that “we’re continuing to work to get more salt into the state, to be able to utilize it to be able to help to make travel here safer.”

In Mercer County, county executive Brian Hughes said so far no major problems have occurred.

“We have about 550 tons of salt, and that’s about what we use in a major storm like this, so we believe we’ll be okay,” Hughes said. “Obviously, we’ll be anxious to get more salt in.”

Even at the shore, where snow totals have been lower than other parts of the state, salt supplies have dwindled.

“Hopefully we’ll be okay,” said Toms River mayor Tom Kelaher. “They tell me they have another 2,000 tons on the way — it’s not here yet and I hope it shows up — you know there’s such a widespread demand for it over such a wide area, it’s never really happened in my recollection.”

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