The terrain is tough to clear, and when the snow melts, it can ice the streets. Therefore, salting is a major priority for the township's Department of Public Works.
Now, thanks to some major purchases by the township, the job of snow removal is about to get a lot easier.
The township officially christened a new 4,000-ton capacity salt storage facility Wednesday afternoon, one of the largest municipal facilities of its kind in the state.
North Bergen's old salt storage facility, located on the grounds of the DPW complex, only held 800 tons of salt, so the township was constantly going out and purchasing more, with no proper way to store it all.
On an average, North Bergen uses 7,500 tons of salt during the course of one winter.
"When the season begins, we can get the salt at $46 per ton for 4,000 tons," said Township Administrator Chris Pianese. "The average storm is about 800 tons. So when we run out and have to go look for more salt, some times the prices go up and we're paying $70, $80, even $100 per ton. Two years ago, when we had a bad winter, we had to ship out to Canada to get salt. It can get very costly."
Not only can the new facility hold more salt, but it also makes the transportation of salt to and from the facility much easier. Now, the trucks can simply back into the facility, load up on salt, and get on the streets in a matter of minutes.
"Snow removal is a very large job in our town," North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco said. "It's very important for us to do it the right way. By getting this new facility, it will make the process more efficient and more cost-efficient at the same time. It's really going to make a difference in what we spend for snow removal."
"It's definitely going to help in getting the roads clearer quicker," Pianese said. "It will just speed up the entire operation."
The cost of the new salt storage facility was $360,000, which should pay for itself in terms of savings within the next few years. Ironically, the cost to build the old 800-ton storage dome was $430,000 more than a decade ago.
"The old facility was a logistical nightmare," Pianese said. "It wasn't even practical use. This is such a better system."
Commissioner Frank Gargiulo, who oversees the Department of Public Works, agreed.
"We're always looking to upgrade the DPW facility and this is another upgrade," Gargiulo said. "There's going to be a significant difference in the ease of operations. This comes at a perfect time, before the heavy snowfalls arrive. We'll always have salt available, so we don't have to search around and overpay for it."
Three new plows In addition to the new facility, the township also christened three new snow removal vehicles, each worth around $170,000, that were purchased with Urban Enterprise Zone funds.
The North Bergen UEZ, which went into effect in 1997, created special commercial shopping zones where the sales tax is only 3 percent, instead of the state-mandated 6 percent. Those sales tax revenues are then turned back to helping beautify the areas where the UEZ is located.
Since the snow removal will directly help the businesses along Bergenline Avenue and Broadway - two of the township's busiest shopping districts - the UEZ funding was used to purchase the vehicles.
"We're really going to see a difference in saving taxpayers money in the near future," Pianese said.
Two of the vehicles are salt spreaders, while the third is called a roll-off truck, which helps to pick up huge piles of snow and move them to another location. In the past, the township would have to hire private contractors to remove the heavy snows.
"It's a very good deal, because the new trucks were paid for by the UEZ," Sacco said. "We're able to get the new technology at no cost to the taxpayers. And the residents of North Bergen help out by shopping in the UEZ. Here's another example of how the UEZ works."