Whether it’s an unplowed road or a close call with a patch of ice, it’s only natural for residents to wonder, “What is the township doing about this?”
The Advance reached out to township Department of Public Works director Dino Colarocco to find out. What follows is the the township’s winter weather protocol, broken down in the following five tips:
When do township crews apply salt to the roadways?
When the township receives a winter storm forecast, Robbinsville Township employees use six dump trucks to apply salt to the roadways. The township’s anti-icing policy includes spreading salt as early as possible to prevent snow and ice from bonding to the pavement and to keep it in a plowable condition.
Robbinsville has approximately 84 miles of roads that are township responsibility. It takes about 3-1/2 to 4 hours to apply rock salt to all of the roads in the township. Route 33, Route 130, Robbinsville-Edinburg Road, Robbinsville-Allentown Road, Church Street, Windsor Road from Main St. in Windsor west and Old York Road are all either state or county responsibility.
Currently, township crews use solid rock salt for anti-icing. DPW has considered treating rock salt with liquid calcium, as well as using brine instead of rock salt. Calcium—while allowing the salt to work more effectively—is highly corrosive to trucks and equipment, potentially creating more costs in replacing equipment than it’d save in decreased salt usage, Colarocco said.
Brine can be applied well ahead of the onset of forecast frozen precipitation and is significantly less expensive than most other chemicals used for anti-icing. But Colarocco said it remains to be seen whether it is effective on local roads. Brine needs traffic to dissipate the melted snow, or else it becomes diluted and, in colder temperatures, can freeze. The roads would then have to be salted, Colarocco said, creating twice the amount of work DPW does currently.
The township has decided against using both those methods.
What about plowing?
When a weather forecast calls for two or more inches of snow, plows are installed on all township trucks and equipment. Once plowable snow accumulates on the pavement, Robbinsville Township employees begin plowing on all primary roads. On the primary roads, crews attempt to keep the roadway clear of snow from curb to curb. Primary roads are maintained in a passable condition throughout the entire storm.
Once the primary roads have been deemed passable and that condition can be sustained with fewer resources—usually when the snowfall ends—the plows are sent into secondary and residential roads. Development streets are also plowed from curb to curb, but driveways will not be cleared.
Currently, there are 18 trucks, one loader, one backhoe and one tractor the township owns and utilizes for plowing. During heavier snow accumulations, township sanitation trucks can be used as plow vehicles. Private contractors may also be used.
Don’t keep your car in the street when it snows — it’s illegal.
If possible, remove your vehicle from the street whenever plowable snows are forecast. Not only do vehicles parked along the curbs make it difficult for plows to clear the roads, but township ordinance prohibits parking on any street in Robbinsville whenever enough snow has fallen that it covers the roadway.
The prohibition stands until streets have been plowed to the extent that parking on them would not interfere with the normal flow of traffic. Any unoccupied vehicle in violation of the ordinance can be removed by the police, at the owner’s expense.
Colarocco also recommended removing portable basketball hoops, hockey nets and the like from roadways to avoid being damaged by snow plows.
You can avoid that plowed-in driveway.
Township crews do not clear driveway openings, and snow may be deposited in front of driveways by trucks during plowing. Colarocco said residents should clear snow from the area of the roadway adjacent to the curb that is left of their driveway when looking at the street from their property. Most of the snow being carried by the plow will drop off in that area before reaching the driveway, preventing a build-up in front of the driveway.
However, it is sometimes necessary to plow roads more than once, and residents, therefore, may have to open up their driveway more than once.
Property owners are responsible for clearing their sidewalks. Just don’t put the snow in the street.
Township ordinance prohibits shoveling or blowing snow into the roadway. Not only does it defeat the purpose of plowing, Colarocco said, but it can create unsafe conditions for drivers. All shoveled or blown snow should be piled in your yard or in the area between the curb and sidewalk. People found violating the ordinance may be issued a summons or fine.