By Declan O’Scanlon
It’s time for someone to challenge Governor Murphy’s assertion that this is a pennies per mile cost: it’s not. There was simply no way that a .17 per mile number was an accurate reflection of the cost to brine our roads when you account for labor, gas, and equipment.
After speaking with a few of local officials we were able to confirm that the actual cost in totality is in excess of $12 or $13 per mile locally – and that is for areas that are more conservative with their usage of salt and brine.
The administration has publicly stated that they use 65 gallons of brine per mile. It seems more likely that .17 is the cost per gallon of the brine materials alone. But with the amount of gallons the State is using, at that rate, it actually costs $11.05 per mile in materials alone, not .17 cents.
That is a hugely misleading statement to our taxpayers, whether it was knowingly misleading or not. In fact, the overall total cost per mile with materials and labor is almost a 7,000 percent increase from what the Governor is on record as saying.
There is no question that the State is over-brining the roads. People around New Jersey praise Monmouth County for managing and mobilizing their storm response the right way and being conservative with salt usage. Yet there have been at least a dozen times this winter so far that Monmouth County wasn’t brining roads, when the state was. There is obviously something wrong there.
We can’t be out here making jokes about New Jersey being the ‘Brining Capital of America’ when we are continuing to add to our structural deficit with this cost. Last year, our winter weather response it cost us more than $100 million, and that was before we started this new policy of dumping resources every time the temperatures drop below 40 degrees.
My goal is not to criticize the attempt to prepare. Obviously we should be preparing and responding to winter weather for the safety of our residents. But this level of waste isn’t preparation. When we mislead people about the rate at which the administration is setting taxpayer funds on fire by nearly 7,000 percent, that is not a joke. That is tragic.
Declan O’Scanlon is a state senator representing New Jersey’s 13th legislative district.