New Jersey Facing Salt Shortage as Icy Storm Hits

A salt shortage across New Jersey could leave streets dangerously slippery as another storm pummels the tri-state, officials warned Tuesday. 

Officials say salt suppliers have been overwhelmed by the harsh winter, and public works crews in towns and cities across the state are still waiting for their next salt shipment. In the meantime, many streets will be left unsalted overnight as snow and sleet fall. 

Anthony Lione of Fort Lee's Department of Public Works said the main roads will be taken care of, but side streets could be left untreated. 

"We try to hit the areas that need it the most, and the rest we just plow," he said. 

Lione said Fort Lee's salt supplier was four to five days behind on shipments. 

In Englewood, crews will only be salting Palisade Avenue when the snow starts at midnight, and the Department of Public Works and police will be closing off most other hills.

"We have to save the salt until the snow ends on Wednesday," City Manager Timothy Dacey said in an email to the mayor and the city council Tuesday evening.

In the email obtained by NBC 4 New York, Dacey said the city only had about 75 tons of salt on hand, compared to the usual 125 tons prepared for a storm. 

City workers tried to pick up 50 tons of salt from the county earlier Tuesday but "were shut out when we and other towns got there."

"The county reached out to the state for salt and requested 3,000 tons," said Dacey. "The state said that everyone is short and they cannot get any salt to the county."

Drivers are being urged to move their vehicles before the storm and to stay off the roads altogether on Wednesday.

The town of Maplewood has canceled jitney service Wednesday due to the storm and "lack of road salts."

Salt supplier Cargill, one of several companies that provides salt to New Jersey municipalities, says it's working overtime to catch up on salt deliveries, but some delays are still possible. 

The salt shortage is hitting people at home, too. Customers are having a tough time getting rock salt from hardware stores.

"I have been calling every store that exists," said Wallace Gould of Pequannock. "Nobody had any salt." 

Some stores like Home Depot say more salt is on the way Wednesday. 

The storm overnight could dump up to 6 inches of snow in New Jersey. Parts of the state had 9 inches from Monday's storm.

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