‘Blizzard that wasn’t’ still cost New Jersey millions
New Jersey was supposed to be pummeled by the "storm of the century" on Monday but that never panned out. But while the expected snow totals never materialized in many places, the winter storm still cost the state millions of dollars in cleanup costs.
Some southern parts of the Garden State got just about an inch of snow, while parts of Monmouth and Hudson counties wound up with 8 to 9 inches of the white stuff.
The storm was a relative dud, but the New Jersey Department of Transportation still wound up spending an estimated 3 to 4 million dollars keeping state highways and byways safe.
According to spokesman Steve Schapiro, the DOT began the winter season with $10.5 million in its snow clearing budget, but additional funds are available as needed.
"We know that we'll likely need more than that and as the winter progresses," he said. "The DOT is reimbursed by the treasury for the expenses to keep the roads clear and safe."
Schapiro said as of Jan. 7, the state had spent "a little more than $13 million for the entire winter."
"Of course that was as of a couple of weeks ago. We've had a couple of storms since then so that number will climb," he said.
According to Schapiro, whenever a winter storm starts to form, preparations begin days in advance, and then if substantial snow or ice is anticipated, it's all hands on deck.
"We determine when we need to activate our crews and then our plowing contractors come in later if necessary,' he said. "This was a storm that we had enough accumulation that we needed them. We always assume a worst-case scenario based on the forecast to make sure we have our resources where we need them to be so as the storm begins we can meet it head-on."
Schapiro said DOT crews do a great job of brining, salting and plowing.
"Safety is always our first concern," he said. "We have a responsibility to keep the roads clear and open, these crews that are both plowing and spreading are actually the first, first responders. It's their job to get those roads open and clear so emergency personnel, police, ambulance, maybe utility contractors, whoever, can get to where they need to go.
He added that until the roads are clear, it's hard to do anything else.
"We take a safety first approach so we can get things open and safe for everyone and get the state back to normal as soon as we can," Schapiro said.
Schapiro also said trying to calculate an exact cost of a storm is difficult because every storm is different. Depending on how the storm comes in , how quickly snow is falling, what is being used to keep the roads clear, there are a lot of variables.