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Winter taxing New Jersey budgets and workers

As the interminable winter of 2013-2014 drags on here in New Jersey, aside from the general discomfort and commuter woes during winter storm triggered traffic jams, the entities feeling the most pain from this winter are the highway maintenance departments and their budgets for snow removal. Many cities, counties and the state of New Jersey have already spent practically their entire budgets from last year, and we have not yet seen Valentine's Day.

Snow removal operations consume a great deal of tax dollars because of the quantity of salt and sand necessary to keep the roads in New Jersey safe, but also the sheer number of hours needed to plow miles and miles of highways. This means workers are putting in large amounts of overtime. Long hours can mean fatigued workers, accidents and a workers' compensation claims. 

One man described how he had worked 121 hours of overtime with the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) plowing snow on the Atlantic City Expressway this winter. When the snow begins, he reminds his family that he loves them and returns when the snow has stopped and the road is plowed.

Even the deputy director of engineering and operations for the SJTA was putting long hours during snowfall, working one 38-hour period and a 42-hour stint during storms.

And, of course, there are hundreds on private contractors plowing parking lots and drives who work grueling shifts when the snow begins, because every client wants their lot plowed first.

But excessive hours, often working at night, and frequently in poor visibility, can all add up to make it a dangerous situation and cause workplace injuries for workers, other drivers and pedestrians, who may not be easy to see for a plow driver.

As long as this winter sticks around, everyone needs to exercise a little extra caution, so we can all get through to spring.

Source: Pressofatlanticcity.com, "Maintenance budgets melt with each snowfall," Donald Wittkowski, February 6, 2014

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