Fresh salt supplies finally landed
VITAL supplies of salt needed to keep the country moving over Christmas finally arrived yesterday.
Supplies were running dangerously low after 25 days of sub-zero temperatures, when up to 3,000 tonnes a night was being spread on the country's roads to keep them open.
But a shipment arrived in Dublin Port in the early hours of yesterday morning carrying 3,000 tonnes of salt, which was swiftly unloaded into 130 trucks and transported across the country.
Another 8,500 tonnes will land today -- 4,000 tonnes in Cork and 4,500 tonnes in Dublin.
Another 2,000 tonnes is due to arrive in Belfast tomorrow, and, on St Stephen's Day, another 5,000 tonnes lands in Cork.
Sean O'Neill from the National Roads Authority said that, in the week after Christmas, a total of 35,500 tonnes would arrive in four ships. This should be adequate to treat roads for the rest of the winter.
He defended the NRA's decision not to tell people that 3,000 tonnes were due to arrive in Dublin yesterday. The first shipment of salt was not expected to land until today in Cork.
"We're feeling much better about salt supplies nationally," he said. "We did not have confidence that the shipment would land in Dublin. Why would we create speculation when we weren't confident about it?
"Motorists will notice that national levels will increase. It's a sigh of relief considering the pressure in recent days."
Although local authorities did not run out of salt, they were forced to mix it with grit to conserve supplies. Grit is far less effective at de-icing roads, and can cause problems when the thaw arrives because the material compacts, causing damage to cars and blocking drains.
Meanwhile, the last section of the national motorway network finally opened yesterday.
The Castletown to Nenagh section of the Dublin to Limerick motorway was completed some time ago but the opening had been delayed because of a dispute over money.
But the last 36km stretch of the M7 opened for business yesterday, signalling the completion of the national motorway building programme costing €8bn and taking 10 years to deliver.
Transport Minister Noel Dempsey said the new motorways were saving lives, slashing journey times, helping business and improving the quality of life of those who use them and those living in bypassed towns and villages.