Salt Supplies Dwindling in NJ as Winter Weather Continues

February 18, 2014 | Around NJ, Politics, Weather
Municipalities have dangerously low salt supplies after getting more snow than usual.

By Lauren Wanko

The Brielle Public Works crew unloads a truck-full of sand. It’s their plan B to keep the roads safe since the salt supply is nearly dried up. Still it’s a last resort.

“We really don’t like to mix salt and sand because it creates another issue of cleaning it up with street sweepers and then we have to pay to dispose of it,” said Manasquan Public Works Director Tom Nicastro.

Three municipalities share the salt in one dome — Sea Girt, Manasquan and Brielle. There’s only about 70 tons of salt left here. That’s typically enough to cover one storm in one town.

The Public Works crews are ready to sweep the salt dome floor — if it comes to that — to save every precious grain of salt possible. Frustrated, Nicastro is forced to scale back on salting.

“We can’t do what we want to do. We want to pre-treat the roads before the storm. That helps a lot and we want to make every street black top and we can’t do that now. We have to do enough just to make it safe,” Nicastro said.

Nicastro says the only reason the three municipalities aren’t completely out of salt is because Monmouth County Public Works and Engineering gave them a supply a few weeks ago. But even the county is in desperate need of salt.

“The county had to come to pick up a small truckload and take it back because they’re running out themselves,” Nicastro said.

In Neptune Township’s salt dome, a firefighter unloads the little bit of salt he didn’t use during this morning’s storm.

There’s only about 100 tons of salt left.

That’s why the township is stocking up on about 400 tons of sand. But even the back-up is back-ordered.

“We have tanks of liquid calcium chloride. Apparently there’s a shortage there also because I’ve been waiting for about two weeks for that delivery,” Wayne Rode said.

Last Friday, Bradley Beach had two and a half tons of salt left. Two snowstorms hit since our last interview. Now, Bradley Beach Operating Supervisor Rich Bianchi says, “We’re out.”

Today we revisit Bianchi in Neptune Township’s salt dome. The two towns have a shared service agreement, but both are in need of salt.

“We have a ton left and that’s not gonna do anything,” Bianchi said.

We revisit the Belmar Public Works Department.

“I’ve been here 28 years. I’ve never seen it empty,” said Franny Hines.

Hines says the county needed to take back some of the salt and the recent snowstorms cleared them out.

“So we don’t have enough to put on a hamburger,” Hines said.

Back in Brielle, crews start moving their sand to storage and wait for more snow.