With some meteorologists predicting a cold winter, Mayo County Council is urging the public not to make unnecessary journeys in freezing weather, as it will be impossible to ensure all roads are kept open.
Members of the Roads and Transportation Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) were informed of Mayo County Council’s Winter Service Plan for the upcoming winter months at their recent meeting. Mr Peter McLoughlin, Executive Engineer explained that the priority was to keep national roads ‘open at all costs’ if there was an ‘apocalyptic winter’.
There were calls by some members of the SPC to ensure that local communities have enough salt in their area to ensure people would be able to get to the regional roads during cold spells. However, Director of Services Tom Gilligan explained that logistically it would be impossible to provide enough salt for every village and town.
He also urged people to not risk unnecessary road journeys, saying that Storm Ophelia showed how important it is that people take due care.
In relation to predicting the weather for the coming winter, Mr McLoughlin pointed out that Met Éireann constantly says that it is impossible to accurately predict the weather outside of a 14-day period.
The last two winters were considered mild. Mayo County Council had 75 weather-related call-outs during last year’s winter months, and 63 the previous winter. It currently has 4,800 tonnes of salt in stock, and used 5,200 tonnes in total over last year’s winter.
Mr McLoughlin explained that the map of treated roads in the county will be available to view on the Mayo County Council website.
Cllr Cyril Burke reminded the meeting of the last hard winter in 2010, and he said a safety and information campaign needed to be in place if such low temperatures once again hit the country, as predicted.
Sinn Féin councillor Teresa Whelan said that compared to other counties, Mayo was ‘way ahead’ in terms of preparation for gritting roads during the winter months.