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Crews from Camden Department of Public Works spread salt as a tractor clears the walkway in Camden, N.J., Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010.
Mayor Bloomberg may have to rethink his campaign against too much sodium, at least for this week.
We're talking salt on the roads of course, and across the Hudson from Manhattan, at Port Newark, the Salt Berths were the busiest places in town between last weekend's storm and the one bearing down on us now. The salt comes primarily from Chile, and it's used all over the Tri-State.
Officials said a storm that dumped two feet or more of snow in much of southern New Jersey depleted supplies. On Tuesday, road crews were bracing for the second major winter storm to hit the state in four days.
"They need it pretty bad," said truck driver Rich Maia of Galloway Township in South Jersey, where he had just dropped off a dump truck's worth.
Maia was back at Port Newark when we talked with him, getting another load of salt. All day on the day before the 2nd storm,trucks swarmed the salt yard at the Port. At one point, we counted as many as 15 trucks waiting to be loaded up.
Another trucker there, Alan DeLauro, said he'd been working four or five straight days, from "3 o'clock in the morning until 8, 9 o'clock every night.
But it's lucrative. DeLauro owns his rig, and admits he's making a lot of money. "Making it while I can, that's what I gotta do," DeLauro said as he waited for his load.
Several trucks from Port Newark were headed toward the DPW yard in North Brunswick, which had used almost half its salt for last weekend's storm.
"As soon as we're done with one storm we're already looking to get material for the next storm which we just did," said DPW Director Glenn Sandor. He explained that another 16 truckloads of salt are expected after this storm blows through.
Of course, that can put quite a strain on already taxed local budgets. But in North Brunswick's case, there is a reserve that has built up over the years specifically dedicated for snowstorms.
"Maybe one more and then after that we will start to have a financial pinch," said Business Administrator Robert Lombard, explaining that savings from light snowfalls in past years are providing a cushion--so far--for this year.
Just don't ask Mayor Bloomberg, this week anyway, to 'hold the salt.'
The state Department of Transportation, meanwhile, said it had 75,000 tons of rock salt on hand -- enough to deal with the anticipated storm.
The department said it began pretreating roads on Monday with a brine solution to help melt the snow. Crews were being told to prepare to work all night.
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