Friday, December 31, 2010

Blizzard Cleanup and Post Mortems Contnue in New York Metro Area

While I've focused quite a bit of attention on the absurdly poor response by New York City to deal with the Boxing Day snowpocalypse, things are in pretty bad shape elsewhere in the New York metro area, including in Asbury Park and other New Jersey communities in Monmouth and Ocean Counties that were hit with 30 inches or more of snow. These towns and communities simply don't have the resources or workforce to compare with New York's 1,600 plows and 350 salt spreaders.
"There will be a thorough analysis of the sequence of events and how they were handled," said Sweeney (D-Gloucester), who was acting governor since Sunday while Christie and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno were out of state. "I would like to know, and it will come out in the end how we performed or how poorly we performed."

Sweeney, criticized by some Monmouth County officials who charged he lifted the state of emergency too soon, said he did not know the severity of problems on Route 18 until after he had rescinded the declaration. The stretch of that highway running through Monmouth County was closed for three days

Crews were clearing snow from state highways in Monmouth and Ocean counties this afternoon. On several of those roads, including Routes 70, 35, 71 and 33, traffic was backed up because of snow-removal efforts or because lanes were still blanketed by snow.

Even today, the third day after the snow stopped, some Neptune residents were trapped in their homes because plows had not gotten to their streets.

Township Business Administrator Philip Huhn estimated 20 percent of Neptune’s nearly 600 miles of roads had not been plowed even once by this afternoon.

Monmouth County still reeling after blizzard hits New Jersey Enlarge Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger The south end of Rt.18 in the Neptune/Wall Township area is closed as remnants of blizzard that began hit New Jersey two days ago continue to paralyze the Jersey Shore.

Huhn laid the blame for the delays on state road crews, who he said failed to plow the six state highways running through the community, which forced traffic onto local roads. Once on the local roads, many vehicles became stuck in snow banks, hampering municipal plowing efforts, Huhn contended.

So, many of these communities are still digging out.

New York City has finally managed to get a plow on to every street. Okay, most streets - those that have stranded and abandoned cars are still blocked.

Sanitation workers are complaining about the stuck cars, but they're also complaining that new and lighter tire chains and new equipment that doesn't have the horsepower of the older equipment is also to blame.
Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), who claimed he had proof of a slowdown, acknowledged it was based on chats with Queens workers - with no indication of a citywide job action.

Instead, Halloran said, three workers in Queens said supervisors told them to take their time plowing, with the message, "If you miss streets, don't worry about it. The mayor's office doesn't worry about Sanitation."

Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty plans a comprehensive review of the department's snow fighting effort - including possible equipment failures.

Plow drivers have complained new lighter tire chains are not as effective and that energy-efficient trucks don't have enough power to get unstuck from snow piles.

Investigations have been opened by the City Advocate, the State Department of Investigations and the City Council will be holding hearings on the disastrous snow response. Of particular note is the possibility that sanitation workers engaged in some form of slowdown or work action, and new reports by the New York Post claim that sanitation workers targeted certain Brooklyn and Queens communities because they were upset over the budget and workforce cuts.

The possibility of a slowdown or work action of some form is plausible considering that 400 jobs are being cut and another 100 administrators are being demoted as a cost-saving measure. It would also increase the number of drivers and lower the number of bureaucrats.

Brooklyn was the hardest hit borough, although Staten Island is close behind.

With the tremendous amounts of snow that fell from the skies and the tons of salt used to melt the snows and reduce ice formation, expect to see a rash of manhole explosions and stray voltage incidents in coming weeks as the water and salt seep into electrical vaults and cause problems.

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