Hoboken Salt Overload!

Hoboken Salt Overload – there are better ways to deal with snow!

Over the last decade and a half here in Hoboken – I’ve noticed an interesting trend when in comes to inclement weather like snow. People have gone on a Hoboken Salt Overload!

Especially this year – we have had a very easy winter when it comes to snow so far, yet I see gobs of salt (sometimes beyond excessive) on sidewalks in all areas of Hoboken. Why is that?

Salt Overload in Hoboken - hurts dogs and cars

Why are Hoboken streets and sidewalks salted so much?

I see several issues with how people perceive salt for the purpose of “melting snow” here in Hoboken:

  • Many people think salt is a substitute for shoveling or sweeping.
  • Salt is a guarantee that sidewalks won’t be slipppery.
  • Salting is all you need to do.

I completely disagree. Salt should be a supplement to other sidewalk clearing mechanisms – not the solution.

And frankly, there is only ONE instance you should ever use salt: In-between shoveling during a heavier snowfall. This will hopefully reduce the amount of “heavy lifting” you need to do, and maintain some sidewalk integrity.

For starters, besides being lazy residents, business owners or elected city hall officials – hardly anyone knows how hazardous salt is – both on sidewalks and on city streets.

On sidewalks, it’s downright painful for dogs to walk on, as well as for them to ingest when they try and lick this substance off their paws. Many dogs hobble around with irritating salt nobules stuck between their paws. Although some conscientious neighbors use the non-toxic calcium chloride instead (thanks, guys!)

Additionally, salting streets has proven to be detrimental to vehicles driving on them. Since it’s a corrosive agent, many accidents on area streets have been attributed to the weakening of the brakes on cars that frequent streets during inclement weather.

Sanding is better than Salt Overload in Hoboken NJ - for pets and cars

Sanding is better than salting in most circumstances

If you’ve walked around Hoboken during our recent string of “barely measurable” snowfall events – whether it’s a dusting or half an inch of powdery snow – there is no justification for the amount of salt that poisons our roads and sidewalks.

Here are some helpful tips for those that might need them:

  • Only use the amount of salt you NEED. Not as a preventative measure or an excuse not to shovel or sweep.
  • Do not pre-salt sidewalks unless you know a substantial amount of snow is on the way (don’t believe weather reports – use your own two eyes).
  • Salt has a sole purpose: To MELT frozen precipitation or ice. Not to give a “grip” (although it does have grippy properties). Remember, it can dissolve quickly and lose it’s melting properties. What then?
  • Best bet: Diagnose the predicted snowfall:
    • If it’s suspected to be a dusting (i.e., “flurries”), just SAND the sidewalk. It does NOT melt, and will provide great grip.
    • If we expect a couple inches, sand first – then shovel mid-way through the storm. Gingerly salt halfway through (careful not to over do it), then shovel at the end, with a generous sprinkle of SAND and just a small amount of salt.
    • If we are anticipating a major snow fall – feel free to both salt AND sand prior to the storm – with regular cleanups throughout.
  • Always END the storm with SAND. It lasts longer, and is safer for everyone!

Do you use salt as a means to “excuse” yourself from your responsibilities?

6 Responses

  1. Civic66 says:

    As a former dog owner I can empathize with your gripe about the salt being bad for animals. But I understand why people do this. Would you rather throw down a ton of salt or risk getting sued if someone falls on the ice in front of your home?

  2. homeworld says:

    Sometimes you reminder me of Goldilocks. Too much salt today. Last week there was an article that there wasn’t enough salt on the streets. Hopefully they get it just right for the potential blizzard tomorrow night.

  3. Oldehickory says:

    I’d rather too much salt than none – there are certain sidewalks near where I live that were down right treacherous yesterday and are generally ignored during the winter.

  4. Town Drunk says:

    Just get boots for your dog to wear when there is ice/snow on the ground, problem solved. Salt is helpful when there is ice on the ground.

    Also, you recommend that we “don’t believe weather reports – use your own two eyes” but later offer three different suggested plans based on predicted snowfall. I doubt that many residents in town have access to the meteorological equipment needed to accurately predict snowfall on their own. So, if it is your recommendation that residents utilize one of your three ideas based on predicted snowfall, but we are also not to believe weather reports, how would you suggest predicting this snowfall? I don’t know about you, but I can’t see into the future of a storm system with my own two eyes as you suggest.

  5. HansBrix says:

    It’s not just a matter of quantity. Instead of even distribution I often see it in useless lines or random piles. The people chosen for the task are lazy, apathetic, or “differently abled”. Go to Stevens park today to see what I mean.

    And the problem is not limited to Hoboken.

  6. briank says:

    More is better with all of the slip and fall lawyers out there. I take a warm wet washcloth to my dog’s paws after every walk to get the salt and chemicals off. But I also realize that a little old lady shuffling on the sidewalk is more important than a dog’s temporary discomfort. So better safe than sorry.

    As a side note, I went on a run after that last snowfall and every single stretch of sidewalk was cleared and salted, except three spots- the entire waterfront pathways downtown, the ship dock facility, and Church Square park, with its very slippery slate sidewalks. Way to go City of Hoboken! Do as we say, not as we do!

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