Getting through Winter Storms

By: Ruqaiyah Shehabuddin

During this winter season, the city of New Brunswick has to dedicate its energy to the preparation, interval, and recovery of hard-hitting snowstorms to ensure safe and smooth experiences for New Brunswick residents in the midst of adverse weather conditions.

The city’s concerns include finding shelter for the needy, cleaning streets, repaving streets, and ensuring efficient and smooth operations during the storm. This winter, many of the snow accumulations were grossly overstated, as in the predictions with Winter Storm Juno. However, the city has seen snowfall nearly once a week.

One of the concerns during snowstorms is getting the men and women suffering from the cold into warm shelters, Jennifer Bradshaw, the city’s public information officer said. Some of the shelters in New Brunswick available to the homeless include Elijah’s Promise located on 18 Neilson St., Women Aware Domestic Violence Shelter, Ozanam Men’s Shelter on 22 Abeel St. as well as a number of food pantries.

Another concern is getting the streets cleaned as quickly as possible to keep traveling safe for residents, as well as allowing schools and businesses to reopen in the case of closures. This year, the city’s budget for snow removal was $89,000. This accounted for materials, such as rock salt and liquid calcium, and approximately $30,000 for overtime.

Another issue for New Brunswick residents is the terrible condition of the streets due to constant plowing. There is a great increase in potholes and uneven surfaces on New Brunswick streets after harsh winters. “Road renovations are done on an ongoing basis. We just finished major renovations to Suydam Street, some paving on Hamilton and have some other projects in preliminary stages,” Bradshaw said.

The residents of New Brunswick are required to provide assistance to the snow removal process in two essential ways.  First, residents must shovel snow from the sidewalks in front of their homes within 12 hours after the end of a snowstorm. They are also responsible for all ice removal.

Also, the city has an ordinance that mandates that vehicles be removed from certain New Brunswick streets, so that plows and emergency vehicles can travel freely down the road making their job easier and quicker during emergency weather situations. The New Brunswick parking authority opens up parking decks for free allowing residents to move their vehicles off the streets. A listing of the designated streets that the ordinance applies to can be found here. Any information on closures or procedures during a snowstorm can be found here.

Bradshaw assured that the city devises a plan before each potential storm. “When a severe weather incident is predicted, the City discusses among its managers projected needs of the storm, including things like temporary shelter, the number of salting trucks and snow plows available and gassed up, situations with parking, early school dismissals and closures, public notifications and staffing needs for the duration of the event,” she said.