Old Bridge officials oppose location for DOT winter yard salt barn


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OLD BRIDGE – Calling it an eyesore and a safety hazard, the Old Bridge Township Council and other officials are requesting the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) reconsider the location of a winter yard salt barn in the median area of the Route 9 and Route 18 interchange.

“Putting a salt facility there is unbelievably dangerous,” Councilman Brian Cahill said during a meeting on Feb. 25, when the council approved a resolution opposing the proposed salt barn.

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The DOT proposes to construct a 90 foot by 147 foot salt storage shed and a 22 foot by 31 foot shed for loader storage. The Route 9 median area is between the northbound and southbound travel lanes just south of the Route 18 overpass.

The resolution opposes the salt barn due to safety hazards; the removal of a heavily wooded median area; the filling of isolated freshwater wetlands and disturbance to existing freshwater wetlands and buffer areas; the unsightly look the building would have at the main southerly entrance to Old Bridge Township; the fiscal impact the salt barn would have on the Shoppes of Old Bridge across the street; and the lack of communication with Old Bridge Township.

The current site, officials said, is heavily wooded and contains environmentally sensitive lands. The proposal calls the area to be cleared to construct the buildings, site lighting, storm water management structures and site improvements for roadways ingress and egress.

The site would be used by DOT as a depot for roadways salt during storm events to serve the central region of the state. Trucks will load and unload salt as needed.

“I can see massive amounts of traffic,” said Cahill, who said he drives by the location on a daily basis to and from work.

Councilman Tony Paskitti said the area for the proposed winter salt barn is one of the entryways into Old Bridge.

“It would be an eyesore,” he said. “The area is very, very dangerous. You are going to have trucks coming in and out right on Route 9, a real hazard.”

Councilman John E. Murphy III said jockeying traffic on and off Texas Road to get to existing shopping centers is a hazard already.

Mayor Owen Henry said township officials were notified at the 11th hour of the proposal for the winter salt barn.

“It was not if or when this is coming,” he said. “[The state] moved this through preliminary design without any type of community outreach and they are in final design.”

Township Attorney Ken Lozier said since the state is far along with its proposal, he suggested providing the state with another township owned property feasible for a winter salt barn close to routes 9 and 18.

Henry said public safety is a number one concern in the area and there are no road improvements in the state’s proposal. He said officials have and will continue to express their concerns with the DOT, local legislators and Gov. Phil Murphy’s office.

Steve Schapiro, spokesman for DOT, said, “NJDOT is committed to working with and serving our communities. The department has been in discussions with the town regarding the possibility of building a salt storage shed on Spring Valley Road. The town raised some concerns, which the department is taking into consideration.”

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