Camden County Road and Bridge struggling to keep up with dangerous conditions

Joyce Miller
Cars drive along in the snow.

Tackling over 900 miles of roadway has presented more than a few challenges for the Camden County Road and Bridge Department with temperatures dipping below 0 degrees. The temperatures combined with ice and snow have made for dangerous conditions. 

On Tuesday afternoon, as the lake area braced for another round of snow in the forecast, county crews were beginning to hit gravel roads throughout the county and prepare for what was expected to be another long stretch of treating roads and plowing snow. Clearing roads has been the primary concern of the 60-some employees of the department. 

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Associate Commissioner Don Williams said the county has been running trucks 12 to 15 hours per day, concentrating on the paved and more traveled roadways. 

Having to deal with the extreme drop in temperature has been the most difficult job, he said. The cold creates more problems for equipment, causing problems with the diesel fuel. The county purchased 200 gallons of kerosene to mix with the diesel fuel to keep equipment running. Another challenge has been just treating the roads. Gravel roads are always a concern once you have a layer of snow on top of the ice, Williams said. 

Salt isn’t effective when the temperature drops as low as it has been, Williams said. The county also uses pea gravel and cinders but even that has caused problems. The county has run into problems with loads of pea gravel freezing after it is loaded on the trucks making it impossible to spread. 

Although the county has an ample supply of pea gravel and cinders, the salt is dwindling. The county has enough on hand to get through the storm that is forecast to hit Tuesday night into Wednesday but may have to look at replenishing the supply before the end of the winter. With March just around the corner, Williams said he thinks everyone is just hoping this is the last storm of the season. “I think at this point, everyone is hoping this will be the last snow of the season. 

Crews are hoping the weather forecast with warmer temperatures for the weekend holds to allow them to catch up and to melt whatever remains of the snow and ice. 

Williams said it is too soon to estimate what the last week of bad weather has cost the county in supplies and equipment maintenance. Employees who do work on the roads are not paid overtime. They are given compensatory time that can be used at a later date.