Winter gritting plan outlined

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Roads Service has been outlining details of the operation to keep Newtownabbey’s roads open during challenging weather conditions.

Following the launch of the Winter Programme by Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy, Eastern Divisional Roads Manager Kevin Monaghan has announced how it will work locally.

Stocks of salt are at capacity and until the middle of April, Roads Service has 63 staff and 29 gritters on standby every night to ensure that the 1,300 kilometres, or around 807 miles of main roads are treated in the Eastern Division of Roads Service.

Mr Monaghan said: “When ice or snow is forecast our salting teams have just three and a half hours and to complete the massive logistical operation that can cost up to £14,000 each time it takes place.

“This year, during prolonged snow, all salt spreading machinery will be fitted with snow ploughs. Our efforts will remain the same, with the clearing of snow from motorways and the trunk roads, before moving to other main roads and the busiest urban link roads.

“In very deep snow we can deploy our snow blowers, the latest of which can shift 1,600 tonnes of snow an hour. The operation will continue until the road network is cleared, but even with all resources deployed, this will take time.”

Arrangements are also in place to call on contractors and farmers, to help clear blocked roads. Improved communication arrangements and priority secondary salting to rural schools that are most affected by wintery weather conditions have also been put in place.