The "500 series" roads, such as routes 539, 571 and 528, will be the first Ocean County roads to be plowed, followed by "secondary roads," according to county officials.
The first of the county roads to be plowed are known as "the 500 series," which includes such main roads as Hooper Avenue in Toms River and Route 571, which extends through Toms River to Jackson.
In Southern Ocean County, those roads include Route 539.
“We start with these main roads and work our way to the secondary roads,” said County Road Supervisor Thomas Curcio.
Curcio noted that the approach taken by the road department to clear the roadways is based on what the weather has brought to the area.
The county has been brining the roads in anticipation of the four to eight inches of snow expected to accumulate sometime between Thursday night and Friday afternoon.
The county currently has 25,000 tons of salt and 30,000 gallons of liquid calcium along with 30,000 gallons of brine, according to a prepared statement from the county.
Road department workers constantly make new brine in order to replace what is used. Brine is a mixture of salt and water that is sprayed on the roadways before snow or ice can accumulate.
“We’ve been doing this for a few years now and it has helped in the snow removal process,” Freeholder Jim Lacey said. “Of course some of the best advice to motorists when it comes to bad weather is be patient and take it slow. Leave yourself plenty of time to get where you are going and if you don’t have to go, stay off the roads.”
During a major snowstorm, the county, at any given time, has roughly 300 pieces of equipment on the roads involved with salting and plowing operations, the statement says.
Winter storms in the county, as locals well know, can be very
unpredictable. The inland area of the county may get hit with snow, while the
coastal area may see more ice and flooding. Weather in the southern portion of
the county may be nothing like what is happening in the northern areas.
“Our road department crews have to react to many different scenarios always focusing on the bottom line of keeping the roads safe,” Lacey said. “Icing and freezing rain is often the more difficult elements to deal with in the winter months.
“The worst case scenario is when bad weather starts as rain and changes over to ice or snow because of an abrupt drop in temperature,” he noted. “This causes black ice and motorists don’t realize how dangerous this is.”
When surfaces are coated with black ice, the county uses salt and calcium to melt some of the ice but more specifically to provide added traction for motorists.
Liquid calcium is sprayed on the salt from spray bars located at each of the county garages.
Even though the county has not added significant miles to its road network it has added width making plowing of widened roads like County Line Road in Jackson Township and Chambers Bridge Road in Brick Township a little more difficult because there are more lanes to handle.
“There is about 1,600 lane miles in the county,” Lacey said. “This is the largest county road system in the state.”
The department is also responsible for clearing all the county parking lots including the vocational-technical centers, the resource centers, Transportation Department, and libraries.
Curcio noted the Road Department is assisted by other county departments including Solid Waste Management and Parks and Recreation.
“It’s a cooperative effort on the part of the county to make certain our residents are safe,” said Freeholder Lacey. “The cooperation makes for a much smoother and efficient operation.”
Curcio also requested that residents be patient when it comes to bad weather.
Residents can assist the clearing operations by not shoveling snow into the road as they clear driveways.
“Adding fresh snow on top of salted snow prevents it from draining properly,” Curcio said. “When the temperature drops at night, the fresh snow also is more prone to freezing, causing dangerous road conditions. Large piles of snow dumped into the street can impede drainage flows, cause sight obstructions and create unsafe traffic patterns.”
Lacey noted it was important for everyone to work together when it comes to keeping safe on the roadways.
“Winter driving can pose a number of challenges,” Lacey said. “We make certain the county roads are safe, motorists need to make certain they drive them safely.”