Gov. Murphy says NJ ready for a messy storm amid heavy travel
UPDATE 8 p.m: NJDOT announced a commercial vehicle travel restriction beginning at midnight into Monday morning on parts of I-80, I-78, & I-287 in New Jersey for all tractor-trailers, motorcycles, empty straight CDL-weighted trucks, passenger vehicles pulling trailers and recreational vehicles.
WOODBRIDGE — As potentially treacherous weather conditions were set to hit New Jersey on one of the busiest travel days of the year, Gov. Phil Murphy said Sunday he and his administration had been preparing since Friday for a mix of ice, sleet, rain and snow.
Speaking at the NJ Turnpike Authority Statewide Traffic Management Center in Woodbridge, Murphy said the state Department of Transportation pre-treated many state highways with brine solution during the first couple of days of the long Thanksgiving weekend.
Road crews had 1,200 pieces of equipment available Sunday for what was "expected to be mostly a salting operation," according to DOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. She also said that the state was prepared to shift to snow plow operations, "if circumstances change quickly."
When asked by a reporter about a November 2018 snowstorm that left NJ commuters seething over a lack of plow response, Murphy said “That was literally a perfect storm last year — in every respect, including from yours truly, we just didn’t get it done and we’re committed to not reliving that same experience.”
Gov. Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy had been scheduled to leave Sunday for a Democratic Governors Association event in San Francisco, California, but that trip was postponed, as Murphy said he would remain in-state to oversee storm operations, adding “I am all, both in words and actions, New Jersey first."
"Troopers are ready to assist residents and motorists across the state both on and off of the highways throughout this busy travel weekend," State Police Superintendent, Colonel Patrick Callahan said, who also said the state emergency operations center would be open as of noontime Sunday, in constant contact with emergency coordinators in all 21 counties.
Gutierrez-Scaccetti said for those traveling as the holiday weekend wrapped up "plan extra time, drive carefully, and move over to give our crews and emergency responders the room to do their jobs to keep the state's highways clear and safe."
State Board of Public Utilities President Joe Fiordaliso and state Homeland Security and Preparedness Director Jared Maples also were at Sunday's briefing.
Fiordaliso said while wind did not appear to be a factor amid the pending storm, ice remained a concern when it comes to potential power outages, also noting weather conditions also dictate how quickly power is restored to any customers.
“In anticipation of the coming weather and potential power outages, we recommend charging phones in advance and having contact information for your utility available. And, as always, never touch any downed power lines,” Fiordaliso said in a written release.
In addition to the NJDOT, coordinated efforts also include the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, the South Jersey Transportation Authority, NJ TRANSIT and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
NJ TRANSIT said in a written release Sunday that regular service on its rail, bus, light rail and Access Link services were still expected for Sunday and Monday, "as long as weather conditions permit safe operation."
The agency's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is open and monitoring weather forecasts and conditions, and NJ TRANSIT advised customers to allow for extra travel time into their schedules, while also using "extreme caution around bus stops, stations and facilities as slippery conditions may exist."
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