It’s white and covers local roads but it doesn’t melt and will be around until at least July. It’s ice-control aggregate, better known locally as grits, and it’s the bane of recreational landscapers throughout West Milford. Cyclists and motorcyclists don’t really like it either. According to Mayor Bettina Bieri, no one really does.
Although the street sweeper has already been by Upper Greenwood Lake’s Lakeshore Drive, white stones continue to litter residents’ front yards as an affront to their aesthetic sensibilities.Newfield Road in Upper Greenwood Lake was covered with the white stones on April 11. The traction-providing aggregate spread during storms this winter contained a high volume of quartzite, making it much more visible than in previous years.
"I have gotten innumerable complaints about the grit," she said.
The main problem: It’s there. The second: It’s white.
Typically earth-tone dull rocks that blend in with asphalt and roadside dirt, the batch of ice-control aggregate the township received last year from Braen Aggregates of Franklin was loaded with quartzite, making it bright white. The town used the same bid specifications it had in the past, which did not include a color specification, the mayor said. The oversight has turned the town’s roadsides white.
"The content is the same as it’s always been. The only difference is you couldn’t see it quite as much in the past," Bieri said.
The grit can be seen strewn along roadsides or piled up in low spots around Upper Greenwood Lake and Airport Road, to name a few. The Passaic County-managed roads are tidier, however, because of the higher salt ratio the county uses in its wintertime mix of salt and aggregate, according to township officials.
The township’s two street sweepers, including one brand new model, have been out working for the last two weeks, according to interim Township Administrator Robert Casey. Still, with roughly 150 miles of paved road to cover and the aggregate necessitating the sweeper bin be constantly emptied, estimates as of last Wednesday have the township sweeping through July before the job is done.
"It’s a very slow process because [the aggregate] is so heavy," Casey said.
The local government is currently executing a cost analysis to weigh the potential of inking a shared service agreement or renting equipment to concentrate the effort, or, as the mayor said, "get a couple guys out there, get the town done quicker, and move on."
"Because of the number of storms and the fact that it’s white, it’s just more visible," Bieri said. "But I think we are working on getting the streets cleaned up as quickly as possible. There is a priority list that’s standard. They do the lake communities first because of the environmental hazards and then move on to the other roadways."
For now, residents just have to live with it on their roads, do their best to clean up their frontage, and hope the town plows push less visible grit onto their yards next year, Greenwood Lake Airport Manager Tim Wagner said.
"I just hope we’ve learned a lesson and that going into next year, we don’t use the same product," Wagner said. "I know we get a little more snow than everybody else, and I know there is a concern that we want to make sure the roads are safe, but now they’re not safe."
The condition of the roads has certainly kept West Milford from being the spring biking destination it typically is, according to recreational cyclist and Highlands Economic Development and Tourism Corp. member Jon Sherwood.
"There aren’t that many riders (in West Milford) right now and the reason is not because the weather has been horrible, because us crazy people – as long as there’s not snow – we’ll ride," he said. "It’s a real deterrent to people who want to ride 30, 40, 50 miles and West Milford is an awesome place to do that, but we’re not able to because it’s really dangerous to ride through that grit.
"All we need is one person, one person who suffers an injury or something much worse than that as a result of going through this grit ... and we’re all going to feel terrible about it," Sherwood added.
Contrary to popular opinion, however, Sherwood called the white color itself terrific. Riders can see it and hopefully avoid it better than the dull grits, he said.
It is that caveat that has the mayor, for one, uncertain if white is worse. Still, she noted the township could specify the color of the grit going forward by revising its bid specifications.
"While it is unsightly, at least you know where it is," she said. "[But] moving forward, we will have to consider whether having it visible is better. I know nobody likes it, but there are some advantages."
- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/residents-will-have-to-grit-bear-it-until-july-1.1004132?page=all#sthash.sKvzF2zK.dpuf
SUBURBAN TRENDS STAFF WRITER
BY DAVID M. ZIMMER
APRIL 27, 2014 LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, APRIL 28, 2014, 12:16 AM