Last year, snow and ice removal cost the State of New Jersey $20.7 million.

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The Department of Transportation (DOT) has not tallied this year’s final price tag, but the state has spent far more than twice as much this year.

DOT commissioner Jim Simpson is testifying today before the State Senate Budget Committee.

“There’s been some talk lately about our snow operation and the fact that we’ve spent a significant sum of money this year with snow,” says Simpson. “We hope that the winter is finally behind us. We will report on final snow costs soon. It is over $50 million as we stand here today.”

There are reasons why the price tag is so high. Simpson says it is not only because there were so many storms this winter that required the DOT to mobilize forces.

“As you can imagine we must prepare to fight snow and ice based on forecasts,” explains Simpson. “We have to do it before the snow falls or the ice forms. We do not wait and hope the forecast is wrong before we call in our crews and the plow contractors to be ready to roll.”

The safety of New Jersey’s drivers is the DOT’s top priority says Simpson and forecasts of snow or ice are treated as emergencies and his Department under Governor Chris Christie has a ‘black pavement’ policy.

“We strive to make sure there is no snow or ice between a rubber tire and the road,” says Simpson. “This costs money, but as I’ve said before; what is a life worth?”