West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Roads Service prepares for Winter

Published: 29 November, 2012

With temperatures dropping below zero, Roads Service is busy planning for the icy conditions as we enter into the final weeks of the year and the beginning of 2013. This was the view of West Tyrone MLA Declan Mc Aleer following a DRD committee meeting with senior officials to discuss their winter readiness programme.

According to Mr Mc Aleer 'I was struck by the scale of operations that DRD have put in place to ensure that 7000 kilometres of main roads in the north are kept clear using a team of 300 people, 60,000 tonnes of salt, 131 gritters and 8 snowblowers, backed up by local farmers and contactors in rural areas in an operation which covers 28% of the entire network or 4.1 metres per head of the population.

'It takes a mere 3 hours to treat this extensive network but with salt at a cost of £32 per tonne, the price is around £70,000 each time it takes place. As a result, Roads Service only salt routes that carry more than 1500 vehicles per day as well as routes with special difficulties, exceptional incidents, schools access, and links to settlements with more than 100 dwellings. On top of this, they provide 4800 salt bins and approximately 50,000 grit piles.

Mr Mc Aleer continued 'In rural areas, farmers/contractors play a vital role in clearing snow from local roads. Whilst the current contract runs from 2010-2013, people who wish to be considered for such work should contact their local DRD section office as soon as possible. In addition to this, I strongly encourage the Principals of schools who are not already on the gritting network to make contact with Roads Service as soon as possible to arrange for access roads to be treated during icy conditions.

'Frost, ice and snow can seriously compromise safety on our roads so I am glad to note that Roads Service has learned from the serious cold snaps we experienced in recent years. They have an enhanced communication strategy involving a wider distribution of leaflets across the north and better 'real time' information which is continually updated on trafficwatchni.com

'I am glad that DRD are getting themselves well prepared along with other agencies such as local councils and the PSNI. I therefore call on all road users to be extremely careful. The last thing we want is for more people to be killed or injured on our roads during the festive season or indeed at any other time of the year'.