A Winter to Remember: Snow Removal

by Nick Lenczyk

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This winter has been quite white.  This record-setting year came as a surprise to those that live in the northeast and those predicting the weather.  Before winter came, the prediction for the 2011 winter was warm with little snow.  As we found out the forecasters were wrong.  Not even halfway into the winter, we hit over fifty inches of snow, breaking the record for January’s annual snowfall as well as having the worst blizzard in over half a century.

NJ Transit in Red Bank

Law enforcement officials and local government are forcing removal of all this snow within twenty-four hours after it ended.  Phone calls have been sent as well as emails telling residents to dig out sidewalks and keep cars off snow-covered roads as DPW crews work to clear them.  This is what life is like in the suburbs, and the cities are not much different.  One thing the cities have that most towns don’t, though, is ice melters that melt all the snow and ice.  This is something New York City uses of which I’m sure many towns are jealous.

Fair Haven and Rumson have ordinances regarding both snow removal and parked cars.  At current time snow and ice is to be removed from all sidewalks within twenty-four hours after it has stopped.  All vehicles are to be clear of the streets as well.  Many residents feel clearing the sidewalks is unnecessary because everyone walks in the streets anyway.  Even worse is that plows continue to re-dump snow into the recently cleared sidewalks.  This was especially true when we had over thirty inches of snow back on the days that followed Christmas.

It’s ironic when the town forces people to clear their sidewalks or get ticketed because there is so much snow to clear. Technically the borough owns the first six feet of everybody’s properties for utilities; sidewalks and space to use if the roadway needs to be widened.  My personal opinion is that the town clears the town’s sidewalks.  This winter, we had over eight winter storms and we have done the best we can to remove snow, but there is just too much.  Residents are also encouraged to clear fire hydrants.  This should be the resident’s top priority because if his or her house were to suddenly go up in flames then it stands a better chance of fire protection.

the tip of the iceburg in Fair Haven...

I should also explain the parked cars scenario.  As many have learned, the Christmas Break snowstorm crippled state and local highways to the point where cars and trucks were left abandoned in the middle of streets.  Plows were unable to do their rounds.  The parkway express lanes were parking lots.  Three days after the storm, roads were still blocked and cars were still stranded, major highways included.  Tow trucks were called in but were busy pulling out everyone else.  When they did come they towed cars away by order of the boroughs and left owners to pay.

Plows by Friday afternoon cleared the remainder of the streets and finished the job.   Cars shouldn’t be out anyway because they just get in the way of snow removing efforts.  A law too that many forget is the STATE OF EMERGENCY, which when defined states that no cars or trucks are to be out unless they are government or emergency vehicles.  Federal money also goes into effect to help pay for snow removal and emergency efforts.  One problem for many is that this phrase is taken too lightly and is often called too frequently.

Huge snow piles stood a month and a half later.  Roads were still not cut back in Fair Haven.  New York City couldn’t find a single spot to put the multiple feet of snow which later turned to ice.  Management dropped the ball this winter.   Employees should have been out hours earlier before many of these storms and more plows should have been available.  Instead, the call came too late.

Thankfully spring weather is getting us back to normal, even with some above-average temperatures expected.  The groundhog predicted an early spring which would come to a relief to the northeast sector of the United States.  I’m happy to say that temperatures are getting up to the fifties and even the sixties.  Looks as if the worst is behind us now.

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