Snow Budget Becoming a Concern
Newest storm could add insult to injury on what is becoming a depleted snow removal fund.
The township is concerned with how much more it can take, but, as officials say right now, they're holding their own.
With the latest storm Wednesday, and more snow already predicted for the future, township administrator Robert Bogart said the township just has to wait and see what happens in terms of Bridgewater's budget for snow removal.
Bogart said he cannot provide exact numbers concerning how much money is still available for snow removal because the budget has not yet been completed.
"We're holding our own as of now," he said. "And we will do whatever we have to to make it work."
Snow plowing and salting, Bogart said, is not a service the township can eliminate, but officials also cannot know in advance what the weather will bring for budget planning.
"This is a service we have no choice but to provide," he said. "And is there a point where it could be troublesome? Yes."
And as the area gets ready for another winter storm, it appears that even the state has already depleted its snow removal budget for the season.
New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner James Simpson testified at an Assembly Transportation Committee hearing Monday. According to a release on the NJDOT website, Simpson provided an opening statement and fielded questions regarding how the state handled the blizzard that hit the state on Dec. 26 and 27.
The Associated Press also reported that Simpson said the state has already used its snow removal budget this season.
Somerset County is bracing once again for some winter precipitation. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for the county from Wednesday morning through Thursday morning. Snow, sleet and freezing rain are expected, with accumulations of six inches of snow possible. Ice coating is also a concern as the storm approaches.
An incoming warm front is expected to spare the region of a blizzard similar to the one in December, but that storm remained on everyone's minds at Monday's hearing. According to information on the NJDOT website, Simpson defended the state’s efforts to clear snow during the blizzard, saying it rescued hundreds of stranded motorists, assisted thousands of others, and kept almost all roads passable throughout one of the 10-worst storms in a century.
“Our personnel did an outstanding job, given the nightmarish conditions that Mother Nature handed us,” Simpson said in his prepared statement at the hearing. “This storm tested the limits of our physical assets, but it did not test the limits of the ingenuity and endurance of our people.”
According to the release on the NJDOT website, Simpson did say that after evaluating the state’s performance after the storm, he is making a number of recommendations, including that all responders use standardized terminology to report roadway conditions, that additional NJDOT employees should be deployed to assess and report real-time road conditions and that a conference room at the Statewide Transportation Management Center in Woodbridge be converted to an integrated “Transportation Situation Room” to be staffed during emergencies by senior leadership from NJDOT and other agencies to better coordinate responses.
But with the weather being such an unknown, Bogart said, Bridgewater itself can really only hope for the best and do whatever is necessary to ensure that the roads are taken care of for the safety of residents.
"The problem is whether it is the town, county or state, it really is a lot of guesswork," he said. "Any year can be problematic depending on guesswork."
"This year has been very severe weather," he added.