JERSEY CITY – It’s been a good run for the Garden State, but Gov. Phil Murphy is ready to welcome a new nickname: The Brining State.

With a small winter storm expected Thursday night, followed by a bigger and still unpredictable one this weekend, Murphy says preparations are underway – and that he doesn’t want to hear about the idea the state has been overdoing it since a storm crippled the state two months ago.

“I’ve got no time for the overpreparing critics, period,” Murphy said. “Those days are over. People were really frustrated with that November storm. I don’t blame them. I was frustrated, too. We’ve got to be better – period, full stop. And if that means over-preparing, we’re going to overprepare.

“I think it costs 17 cents a mile to brine the road,” he said. “So if we become the brining state of America, I will not be upset about that.”

Too much salt can temporarily turn freshwater bodies, from which New Jerseyans get drinking water, into something closer to seawater, said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

"The salt from the brine can lead to serious environmental and health impacts. Brine gets into our major drinking water sources. Chloride from brine increases lead leaching out of older pipes in our homes and out of our faucets," Tittel said.

"Salt corrodes metals like automobile brake linings, frames, and bumpers, and can cause cosmetic corrosion. To prevent this corrosion, automakers spend almost $4 billion per year," said Tittel, who said it can also penetrate concrete "to corrode the reinforcing rods causing damage to bridges, roads and cracked pavement."

Murphy said the newly aggressive storm prep is “not just a reaction to November.”

“We’re the densest state in the nation. We’ve got to be able to move people around, whether it’s a car, a bus, a train or cargo, whatever it might be,” Murphy said. “And so the premium on getting that right in this state is as high as probably any state in the country. And I take that responsibility seriously.”

Murphy said he conducted “a mini storm Cabinet meeting” right after Tuesday’s State of State, involving the heads of the State Police, Department of Transportation and Board of Public Utilities.

“We are concerned. There’s a more modest weather system looking like it’s coming through Thursday night into Friday. We’re monitoring that. But we’re much more concerned about the potential system coming through Saturday into Sunday,” Murphy said.

“One wild card, just to lay this out, that we’re trying to get our arms around,” he said. “It looks like, if you look at the weather from the national weather bureau, it looks like temperatures on Sunday literally could be something like 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the morning and 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit at dusk. Which means this could be everything from 18 inches of snow to a lot of rain.”

Murphy urged residents to check ready.nj.gov for tips and updates.

“And I won’t be bashful communicating with folks if we think we’re going to get walloped,” he said.

Tongue firmly in cheek, alluding to criticism that he ate at a nice restaurant near his home in Middletown during the November storm that all but closed roads and rail traffic, Murphy also said: “I’ll be in some fine dining institution with the windows closed and shutters down, completely oblivious to this.”


New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.


Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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