Department of Public Works Superintendent John Shaw said last week that he almost crashed into another car during the snowstorm on Thursday, Jan. 4.
“I was checking the streets to see what had to be done, and when I drove down the street, because of the amount of snow that was thrown in the street, my anti-lock brake system wouldn’t let me engage my brakes,” Shaw said. “I slid three-quarters the way down a hill. I had a vehicle in front of me, which I blew the horn at to get him out of my way.”
North Bergen is one of the most hilly towns in the country, making it difficult to clear to begin with.
Shaw and the DPW have suggestions for residents during and after snowstorms to make cleaning the streets easier.
Where to put the snow
“The worst part, after the storm, is shoveling snow back into the street,” Shaw emphasized during an interview in DPW headquarters last week. “That creates ice. They put it out in the streets, there’s some salt under it, it melts a little bit, gets cold. Now we have to go back and plow the street and we end up plowing in people who already shoveled.”
Shaw, who estimates that at least 50 percent of North Bergen residents reshovel snow after a storm, says that they should instead designate a parking space off-street and fill it with snow. For example, residents could place the snow on their front lawns, or designate other space in front of their houses.
The town gives them 24 hours after a snowstorm to clear their sidewalks, he said. If DPW workers find the sidewalks uncleared after that period, they will clear it themselves, but residents risk a summons and a charge for the work.
How residents park during and after a storm also affects DPW efforts. “Riders of The Storm,” a 2014 documentary the town commissioned, covers its efforts to deal with a February snowstorm that year. One scene shows a DPW driver blocked on a snowy street by the back of a car protruding into traffic.
Residents can help by ensuring they don’t park out from the curb, Shaw said. Also, not parking on corners allows DPW vehicles better turning space while plowing streets.
If you must drive…
If residents have to drive between Kennedy Boulevard and Tonnelle Avenue during a storm, they should use primary routes the town keeps open for emergency vehicles. They are 46th, 51st, 76th, 79th, and 91st Sts.
Other nearby streets should be avoided if possible.
Lastly, Shaw and DPW officials say, residents should not dump snow onto storm drains after storms. When snow melts into water, blocked drains could lead to heavy flooding. “Water finds its own way,” Shaw said.
During storms, residents can call the DPW at 201-392-2128 to report unplowed streets.
Hannington Dia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org