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Local and regional roads will suffer in any cold snap

Local and regional roads will suffer in any cold spell

Edwin McGreal

IF this coming winter brings as much cold weather as the last two, Mayo County Council are confident they will have a better treatment plan in place but many local and regional roads will go largely untreated in icy and snowy conditions.
The council discussed their Winter Service Plan for 2011/12 at yesterday’s (Monday) Roads and Transportation Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) and members there were told that 22 per cent of regional roads and 97 per cent of local roads will not be routinely salted during the winter.
The plan states that these roads, described as Priority 3, will be considered for treatment by the Area or Town Engineer once priority 1 and 2 routes are treated and if resources allow. Priority 3 includes footpaths in urban centres and regional and local roads not considered strategically important.
In a comprehensive presentation to the SPC, the council’s Electrical Engineer Iarla Moran stated that the council had acquired three new salt spreaders and four new snow ploughs. They now have 23 various spreaders for this winter.
A minimum salt stock level of 4,000 tonnes will be maintained in storage and Mr Moran added that the new equipment should ensure shorter routes and quicker spreading of salt. Their objective is to get the designated roads treated by 8.30am every morning. Over 60 staff are involved in the provision of the winter service during normal winter weather and that number is increased during severe weather, as resources allow, Mr Moran added.
A greater detailed communications plan is also part of the plan. Mr Moran also told the meeting that salt supplies would be made available at certain locations in the county for people to salt untreated regional and local roads themselves.
Cllr Jimmy Maloney queried whether this had led to people taking too much salt for themselves but Mr Moran said that it had worked quite well.
Cllr Michael Holmes called for ‘common sense’ in terms of how roads are salted, pointing out that the regional R311 from Castlebar to Newport was not a national road but had ‘ten times’ as much traffic using it than the N59 from Mulranny to Bangor Erris.