Regional Development Minister Michelle McIlveen has launched the TransportNI winter service operation that aims to keep traffic moving safely and freely on our main roads during the winter.
Until April next year over 300 staff are available every day to salt the road network that serves around 80% of daily traffic flow in Northern Ireland. The full winter service fleet of 130 gritters and eight specialist snow blower vehicles are operational and available to be deployed.
Michelle McIlveen said: “We are all too well aware that winter bring with it uncertainty in terms of the weather. However, what the Northern Ireland public can be certain about is that the operation to keep our main roads open this winter is firmly in place and that the Department is planning to deliver a normal level of winter service this year.”
“Staff with fully operational equipment and over 70,000 tonnes of salt are prepared and ready to be deployed should the weather impact on the main road network.”
TransportNI salts the main through-routes which carry more than 1,500 vehicles per day. In exceptional circumstances, some roads carrying between 1,000 and 1,500 vehicles daily will also be salted. This means that the road network which carries 80% of daily traffic will be treated.
The Minister added: “In addition to the existing resources I already have in place, reserve stocks of around 20,000 tonnes of salt are strategically placed at points across Northern Ireland. I have also made provision for further supplies of salt, if required, at the rate of around 15,000 tonnes per month.
“Additional salt bins are provided on routes not included on the gritting schedule. These are free of charge to the public to use on a self help basis.”
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 road following heavy snow falls.
TransportNI has also in place provision to deal with emergency requests from, for example, farmers requiring feed for stock, or residents needing access to fuel.
The advice to everyone is to take some time now and prepare for winter. Commercial property owners in particular should ensure they have adequate supplies of salt in place to ensure the safety of employees and visitors.
Further advice is contained in the TransportNI Winter Service information leaflet ‘Keeping Traffic on the Move During Winter’ available to download at: DRDNI WINTER SERVICE.
Current information about road conditions is available at:TRAFFICWATCHNI.