The transport industry has welcomed news from Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon that the Department is ready for winter to keep traffic moving safely and freely on main roads throughout the months ahead.
Approximately 300 staff, 130 gritters and 12 specialist snow blowers are available to salt the 7,000 kilometres of the road network on the salting schedule.
Minister Mallon said: “We are all too well aware that winter brings with it much uncertainty in terms of the weather. Staff are ready to be deployed as necessary and we have around 60,000 tonnes of salt in stock, should the weather impact on the main road network.”
The Department for Infrastructure salts the main through routes which carry more than 1,500 vehicles per day. In exceptional circumstances, roads with difficult topography carrying between 1,000 and 1,500 vehicles daily will also be salted.
The Minister added: “In addition there are reserve stocks of around 20,000 tonnes of salt and I have also made provision for further supplies, at the rate of around 15,000 tonnes per month to be made available if required. Over 5,500 salt bins and 52,000 grit piles are also available for use by the public on a self-help basis on selected routes not included on the salting schedule.”
As in previous years, arrangements are in place to enlist the help of private contractors and local farmers to assist in efforts to clear blocked roads.
The Minister continued: “My staff will do all that they can to keep the main roads open. We all need to be mindful of the changing conditions during the winter months and adjust the way we drive, ride or cycle to ensure it is appropriate for the conditions. The best advice is in the Highway Code: slow down; take extra care even if roads have been salted; be prepared for road conditions changing over short distances and take care if overtaking a gritter.”