BRICK – The Department of Public Works (DPW) is ready for snow and ice with some 1,200 tons of road salt on hand at their two salt houses at the Ridge Road facility.
Steve Krakovsky rose through the ranks before being named the new department head a year ago after the retirement of Ken Mathis.
“We’re ready – we’ve got the plows mounted and the salters all ready to go,” he said from his office just before the predicted Christmas storm.
While no snow was expected in Brick, rain was, and Krakovsky said as soon as the rain stopped the department would spread the salt/brine mixture on all township roads since the rain would just wash it away.
Roads are plowed when there is four inches of snow. The DPW has 39 plowing vehicles in-house, which range from pick-up trucks to dump trucks and rear-loader garbage trucks. 13 of the plows have salters, which would all be deployed after the rain stopped, he said.
The township also uses six outside vendors, each of which have multiple plowing vehicles, bringing the total to 55 snow plows. None of the contractors are used for salting the roads, which is handled entirely by township vehicles, Krakovsky said. It takes about seven hours to salt all the township roads.
It doesn’t snow as frequently as it once did, he said. During his two-and-a-half year tenure as department head, Mathis didn’t have one snowstorm, Krakovsky said.
“He left, and then the very next day it was my turn, I got a snowstorm,” he said.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, total snowfall has decreased in many parts of the country, which could be attributed to climate change. More winter precipitation is falling in the form of rain instead of snow.
Last year a snowstorm left 16 inches of the white stuff on the township roads. Krakovsky said they only plowed once but salted several times, averaging about five times a year.
“If we’re getting a big storm and we know we’re getting a lot of snow, at least a four inch accumulation, we salt prior to the storm because it helps to unlock the snow from the road when we do have to plow,” he said.
Before a big storm, Krakovsky said they split their workforce in half so there are two shifts for plowing. “I have just enough trucks for every man,” he said.
The township is divided into 53 plow routes, said Road Department supervisor TJ Ventorino. Each driver is assigned one of the routes, which shows every street and the emergency roads that have to be plowed first, which are usually the main township roads in the neighborhoods. (The DPW does not plow county and state roads).
If there is four inches of snow, it takes about 15 hours to clear the roads, he said. A foot of snow could take 24 hours, and that is using all township and outside vendor trucks.
Every driver has a DPW-issued GPS device, so Ventorino said they can see which streets have been plowed. If a truck goes down for a mechanical issue, they can send nearby trucks to finish the route, he said.
Before each plowing or salting shift, Ventorino said the department puts safety first and stresses the importance of their jobs to the drivers.
“Your family and friends are out there too,” Ventorino says. “This can prevent them from having an accident.”