With very little snowfall this past winter in most parts of the Garden State, the New Jersey Department of Transportation wound up spending a lot less to keep highways safe and passable compared to most years.

Nevertheless, DOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said there were a total of 28 different winter events crews responded to.

"If we get a rain that is much harder than we anticipate and we have several flooding issues or traffic signal issues and we send out six or more crews, we mark that as an event.”

She said since there was not a lot of brining and salting done this past winter, the material will be saved for next fall and winter.

Winter Weather Massachusetts
(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
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Domes filled with road salt

“I’m sure many times you’ve seen those large salt domes that we have, certainly on the Turnpike and the Parkway and the Atlantic City Expressway. The salt that is in those domes can be maintained for about five years,” said Gutierrez-Scaccetti.

She pointed out the same holds true for the brining solution that’s sprayed onto roadways to prevent icing.

“It doesn’t have an expiration date, it doesn’t go bad, and so we just maintain those levels and then obviously we’re able to buy less next year.”

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Gutierrez-Scaccetti said right now the DOT has 183 tons of road salt and 434,000 gallons of brine and 656,000 gallons of ice-melting calcium chloride in storage.

Not taking any chances

Gutierrez-Scaccetti said that even though there is no snow in the forecast the DOT will wait until early April to put away all of the snowplows and salt spreaders until they’re needed again late next fall.

What have the DOT workers that are usually plowing and salting been doing all winter?

New Jersey potholes
(Micromedia Publishing)
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Gutierrez-Scaccetti said employees have multiple jobs all year long so “they may be out there doing vegetation management, they may be out there doing guardrail repair, right now we’re in the midst of our pothole campaign.”

She pointed out there are also electrical and maintenance projects going on all year long.

“They don’t sit around and play cards and watch TV, I can promise you that.”

She also noted that even though there was a lot less plowing and salt spreading this year, that doesn’t mean the DOT now has an extra pile of money they can use for something else.

Gutierrez-Scaccetti explained every year her Department gets an allocation from the Treasury Department of about $10 million for snow and ice removal, but the treasury actually holds onto the cash.

If it’s a snowy winter and more money is needed the funds will be transferred to the DOT, but if the money is not needed it stays in the general fund.

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