With the supply chain disruption crisis continuing to get worse, questions are being raised about whether the state Department of Transportation has enough supplies to fight Old Man Winter and keep roadways clear during snow and ice storms.

Even though we have had multiple snow events over the past few weeks, Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said there's a "sufficient supply of salt and calcium chloride.”

Calcium chloride is used to make the brine solutions that the DOT sprays onto highways to make them less slippery when precipitation begins to fall.

We learned our lesson

Eight years ago, we reported how the state almost ran out of road salt when it snowed almost every day for weeks. Since then, the DOT has kept a larger supply of salt in storage.

“Those arrangements are made well in advance of winter," Gutierrez-Scaccetti said. "We’re really thinking about these things in the summer and early fall as we think about getting ready for the winter season.”

Courtesy NJ Dept. of Transportation
Courtesy NJ Dept. of Transportation
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She noted when it comes to replacement parts for the big trucks with snow plows that clear New Jersey roadways, “we generally order a full season of parts in advance, so we keep an inventory here and it looks fine for this year.”

Sickouts

With the recent omicron surge, the DOT had many workers out sick but the trend is improving.

“A week and a half or so ago, we were short about 100 people. Last week when we had the snow, or maybe earlier this week we were down about 50,” she said.

“But even with those numbers, we have sufficient personnel to make sure that we are able to cover all of our snow routes and make sure that we do the job that is intended for us to do, to clear the roads.”

An NJ DOT plow truck on Route 31 in Ewing
An NJ DOT plow truck on Route 31 in Ewing (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)
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A team effort

Gutierrez-Scaccetti said the state is in excellent shape with support from the backup team of plow contractors.

“Mother Nature [is] not necessarily always going to tell us exactly what she’s going to do, so we have to always be prepared to address any eventuality,” she said.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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