Grit scheme starts ahead of cold snap

Published Thursday, 25 October 2012
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With winter on the way and a dip in temperatures forecast for this weekend, the Roads Service has launched its seasonal gritting operation.

Grit scheme starts ahead of cold snap
Grit trucks ready for action. (© Pacemaker)

Over 300 staff and more than 130 grit trucks will be on standby nightly to deal with sleet and snowfall on roads across Northern Ireland.

It comes ahead of cold weather on Friday and Saturday with some frost predicted.

Transport Minister Danny Kennedy urged motorists to take care when driving this winter.

"Winter Service is really a battle against the elements and ice-free roads cannot be guaranteed," the UUP minister said.

Motorists have to play their part by taking extra care during wintry conditions.

Danny Kennedy

"Every night from now until the middle of April, we will have over 300 staff and 132 gritters on standby to salt main roads, helping drivers to cope with wintry conditions.

"Salt barns and stockpiles have already been filled to maximum capacity and Roads Service is now holding stocks of almost 110,000 tonnes of salt."

Mr Kennedy said £5m had been set aside for the gritting operation which involves covering around 7,000km of main roads in just over three hours.

He added that, in the event of prolonged snowfall, all machines will be fitted with snow ploughs and efforts will be directed to motorways and other busier routes.

"The operation will continue until all roads are cleared, but this may take some time, even with all resources deployed," said the minister.

"In very deep snow, Roads Service will use its nine snow blowers, the latest of which can shift 1,600 tonnes of snow an hour."

Meanwhile the DRD has also encouraged the public to make preparations for the battle against the winter elements and asked shop owners to have supplies of salt in place to ensure the safety of employees and visitors.

© UTV News
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