Sea Bright is looking to reroute snow plows

BY SUE M. MORGAN Staff Writer

Staff Writer

SEA BRIGHT — If borough officials have their way, any snow that falls this winter upon the Route 520 bridge might be pushed into Rumson by the Monmouth County public works crews that plow the span.

Damage from snowplows to trees at the foot of the Sea Bright -Rumson bridge on the borough’s side and safety concerns overall have prompted Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams and the Borough Council to ask the county’s department of public works to instruct its plowing crews to relocate the final resting spot for the white stuff.

In an Oct. 22 letter to Daniel J. Wolfe, director of the county’s public works and engineering departments, Kalaka-Adams detailed the solution proposed by borough officials at a council meeting three days earlier.

“This matter was discussed by council at the Oct. 19 meeting, and a suggestion was made to plow the bridge from Sea Bright into Rumson, pushing the snow onto their park property,” Kalaka-Adams wrote.

A terse, yet official Nov. 10 letter to Kalaka-Adams from Wolfe shows someone out in Freehold is paying attention to Sea Bright, according to Borough Council President Maria Fernandes.

As the chair of the council’s public works committee, Fernandes is especially eager to get the snowplows poised to travel west before any flakes begin falling.

The borough’s requested change of “plowing routine” will be forwarded to county Highway Supervisor Richard Iadanza, Wolfe wrote in the letter to Kalaka-Adams and forwarded to Fernandes.

“I am certain that alternate plowing arrangements can remedy the situation, and by copy of this letter, I will ask him to contact you to discuss our alternatives with you,” Wolfe wrote.

Fernandes expressed optimism that the bridge plowing situation would be resolved in Sea Bright’s favor.

“That would be a wonderful thing if they would cooperate,” Fernandes said.

Just as importantly, however, the borough is awaiting a reply from the state Department of Transportation (DOT) about reversing the direction of plows that clear snow from Route 36, Fernandes explained.

In a Nov. 5 letter, Kalaka-Adams asked DOT commissioner Jack Lettiere to have the state’s plow crews push the snow to the east side of Route 36, also known as Ocean Avenue, instead of the west side.

During previous snowfalls, DOT crews have pushed the snow onto the west side of the state highway, which in turn blocks residential driveways and sidewalks, Kalaka-Adams wrote.

Residents are then unable to get out of their driveways or clear the sidewalks in front of their homes, the mayor went on. Pedestrians, discouraged by snow-covered sidewalks, are forced to walk on Route 36, she added.

“I am requesting that the snow be plowed to the east side of Highway 3 [Ocean Avenue] to alleviate some of the concerns and to prevent a situation [i.e. accident] from occurring,” Kalaka-Adams wrote to Lettiere.

Blocked sidewalks and driveways after the plows come through are especially common in the borough’s North Beach section, Fernandes noted.

“There’s no place to put the snow,” she said.

The borough’s public works crews, which are only responsible for plowing town-owned streets, parking lots and thoroughfares, are not authorized to perform work on a state highway, Fernandes explained.

“Our public works can’t do anything,” she said. “People are stuck in their homes.”

Local work crews do try to work in conjunction with state and county crews, but are not allowed to clear state or county roads, Sea Bright’s Public Works Director Dave Bahrle agreed.

If the state complies with the borough’s request, residents in North Beach would be relieved, Bahrle noted.

“[Plowing snow to the east side of Ocean Avenue] will definitely benefit the residents of North Beach,” he said.

A number of empty parking lots, several belonging to seasonal-only beach clubs, could be used as a drop-off point for some of the plowed snow, he suggested.

The solution is simple and the county public works and DOT should be able to carry it out on both the Sea Bright-Rumson Bridge and Route 36, Fernandes said.

“All they have to do is turn the trucks around,” she said.

Any change in snowplowing routines by either the county public works or state DOT will also be coordinated with borough police, according to Kalaka-Adams’ letter.