Private plow operators who push walls of snow into roadways already incur the wrath of drivers and municipalities. Under a bill before the New Jersey Assembly, they would face something more.
Legislation introduced by Sen. Donald Norcross (D., Camden) would fine contractors up to $500 for dumping snow into public thoroughfares.
In Camden County, the unauthorized dumping, most of it from shopping malls and other large commercial centers, is a long-standing problem, Freeholder Ian Leonard said. Walls of snow are pushed from parking lots onto adjacent roads, causing drivers to navigate obstructed or severely narrowed lanes.
"I've seen it four times in the last hour," Leonard said around noon Monday as he traveled with county snow-clearing crews.
"You see big mounds of it, three or four feet high. When it freezes up, it's like driving into a wall," he said.
The practice exists statewide, creating a safety hazard that drives up the cost of snow removal for taxpayers and makes "an extremely difficult season even tougher on equipment and personnel," Norcross said in a news release.
Private contractors are prohibited from obstructing driveways with plowed snow, but there is no law that prohibits dumping it on public roads or in parks, Norcross' office said.
Under the legislation, a contractor would be fined $250 for a first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses. The bill passed in the Senate unanimously this month and awaits a vote in the Assembly when the legislature returns in January.
Leonard thinks its passage would have an immediate impact.
"A couple of $500 fines will put a dent in what [contractors] are making," he said.