300 staff will “work around the clock” to keep Northern Ireland’s road network open this winter, the Infrastructure Minister has said.
As part of the department’s commitment to keep traffic moving, prevent delays and minimise accidents, 130 gritters will treat key arterial routes totalling 4,350-miles throughout the province’s six council areas.
12 snow blowers are also available to use in the most extreme conditions, according to Nichola Mallon MLA, who launched the annual Winter Service programme at the department’s Balloo site in Bangor this morning.
“Winter weather can be unpredictable and as the temperature are beginning to drop staff are ready to be deployed as necessary to help keep traffic moving safely and freely on our main road network,” said Minister Mallon.
“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.”
In circumstances where the department’s regular fleet is at capacity, arrangements are in place to enlist the help of private contractors and local farmers to clear any blocked roads.
“We currently have 55,000 tonnes of salt in stock in our barns and reserve stocks of around 20,000 tonnes of salt available,” the Minister added. “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 5,600 salt bins and 63,000 grit piles are also available for use by the public on a self-help basis on selected routes not included on the salting schedule.
“During wintry weather my staff work around the clock to keep the main roads open but we need to be mindful that conditions can rapidly change. But we all have a responsibility to take care on the roads at all times and adjust the way we drive, ride or cycle to ensure it is appropriate for the conditions.”