NJ's Highway of Snow, Ice, and Stranded Motorists

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    NEWSLETTERS

    New Jersey State Police Urban Search and Rescue units were back in the air Tuesday morning, ready to rappel down ropes to rescue any stranded motorists they could find on a long stretch of rural Route 18 in Monmouth County.

    By 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, ground-based National Guardsmen in Humvees, local police in 4x4's and on snowmobiles had rescued "at least 11 motorists" according to State Police Sgt. Stephen Jones.

    One who survived some ten hours overnight Sunday was Paul Henriques of Union Township, N.J.

    Trapped Jersey Drivers Start Digging Out

    [NY] Trapped Jersey Drivers Start Digging Out
    24 hours after the last snowflake fell on Route 18 in Monmouth County drivers are finally able to start digging out. The major thoroughfare was littered with abandoned vehicles, among them a tanker and a dump truck fitted with a snowplow. Brian Thompson spoke with drivers who were trapped on the roadside.

    "I had to walk up an exit ramp to find a policeman to come and get my two buddies," Henriques told NBCNewYork.

    He got stuck Sunday night, during the worst of the blizzard.

    It was, in effect, New Jersey's Highway of Snow--unplowed, or not plowed enough on Monday--the day after the same blizzard that paralyzed neighborhoods of New York City and New Jersey for more than 24 hours.

    But while road crews were able to open up other state highways on Monday, it is not clear how they missed normally busy Route 18, which connects East Brunswick at Exit 9 on the New Jersey Turnpike to shore communities such as Long Branch, Asbury Park and Neptune.

    Sgt. Jones of the State Police did tell NBCNewYork that their choppers started flying Monday to begin their rescue operation of identifying stranded cars with people inside.

    Those flights resumed again Tuesday morning as a precaution.

    By midday Tuesday, one lane in each direction of the 4 lane, divided highway appeared to be open. But many of the entrance and exit ramps were still closed, looking to all appearances like they had never seen a snow plow.

    NJDOT Commissioner James Sampson told NBCNewYork that it was "bad luck" for his plow crews on Sunday.

    And by Monday, after the storm had passed, he said there were so many cars, and even heavy snow plows stranded on the exit and entrance ramps, as well as the main highway itself, that it was impossible to clear the road then.

    "This is like from the North Pole," Simpson said, adding that State Meteorologist Dave Robinson told him this was "one of the ten worst snowstorms of the past hundred years."

    With help from Monmouth County road crews, the state was planning on working overnight Tuesday to reopen the road on Wednesday.

    Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY