McGrath Calls On Roads Service To Update Gritting

Roads in South Down need to be properly gritted says Colin McGrath MLA.

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Roads in South Down need to be properly gritted says Colin McGrath MLA.

McGrath contacts Transport NI about Gritting Schedule in the Down area.

SDLP MLA Colin McGrath has called on Transport NI to update their winter gritting schedule to ensure that the correct number of roads and areas are gritted during the icy winter period.

Commenting, the MLA said: “We have seen over the past week a sharp turn in the weather with many nights dipping well below zero degrees. This has inevitable led to many roads freezing over and this has made driving difficult.

South Down MLA Colin McGrath.

“I was contacted by many constituents who were concerned that areas that had previously been salted were not gritted and also looking for additional areas to be included on the schedule.

“I am aware that there is a process to be followed for new roads to be added to the schedule and this includes a criteria which must be met

“But I understand the concerns that people have especially with the increasing numbers of people in rural areas that need community based care and this means nurses and community care staff are travelling along rural roads early in the morning when the ice is at its worst.

“Therefore, I have contacted Transport NI to discuss the criteria to ensure that it is capturing as much of the dangerous roads as possible and that the roads that are on the schedule are being gritted properly.

“I also need to thank those staff and contractors that do grit the roads and drive in very difficult and dangerous conditions to do so, they are providing an invaluable public service.”

Given that there is no A&E operating at the Downe Hospital if a medical emergency arose, Down News contacted the Roads Service and asked if there was a sudden hard frost and ice on the road, which roads would be given priority… the road from Downpatrick to Belfast or the road from Downpatrick to Dundonald ?

A spokesperson for the roads service indicated that it is the aim of Roads Service “to focus our resources on roads carrying the most traffic.

“A schedule of salting routes has been drawn up covering the main through routes carrying more than 1,500 vehicles per day.

“Other roads carrying more than 1,000 vehicles per day may also be included if they are in hilly areas or there are other difficult circumstances.

“Special allowance is made for school and other buses by a weighting factor. For example, a 40-seater bus is counted as 40 vehicles

“Almost 7,000 km (4,300 miles) of roads are salted which is 28% of the length of the road network and salting it costs £4.5M in an average winter.

“This caters for 80% of all traffic. To cover 90% of traffic the length of roads salted would be doubled, at twice the cost.

“On more lightly trafficked roads, salt boxes or grit piles may be placed at hills, bends or junctions for use by the public.”

Therefore, there is a greater likelihood that the busier Belfast-Downpatrick road will be salted and gritted quicker.

Check out the Winter Driving information section on:

Traffic NI website