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Wednesday 16 August 2017

NRA confident salt stockpile will put brakes on repeat of chaos

Kevin Keane and Fergus Black

THE National Roads Authority (NRA) has said it is confident a repeat of last year's salt shortages -- and consequent road gritting problems -- will not happen.

Gritting trucks and thousands of local authority staff were being mobilised overnight to keep main routes clear as the country continued to battle the big freeze.

Across Dublin's four local authorities, more than 1,000 staff have been drafted in to clear footpaths as more snow and ice is forecast this week.

The NRA, which was asked last year to become the main supplier of salt to local authorities, said yesterday that ample supplies were available.

At present, more than 100,000 tonnes of salt are available to the local authorities for treating roads. Of this, 15,000 tonnes will be required to keep the roads clear this week alone.



Dangerous

But although 130,000 tonnes were used last winter, the NRA said it was confident that it has enough supplies to see the country through the cold snap.

Local authorities are concentrating their efforts on salting and clearing primary roads, which carry 50pc of all traffic. NRA spokesperson Sean O'Neill cautioned that conditions would be still be dangerous despite their efforts.

"Salt is not a silver bullet, it gets impacted in snow and it doesn't matter what you put down. With these exceptional cold temperatures some roads may not be the best, whether it be local, regional or national," he warned.

He has advised motorists to be patient. "Everybody's going to be driving slow because they are going to be anxious and concerned about the snow, so people need to realise that we are not familiar with these sorts of weather events."

The vast majority of national primary routes, including motorways, will be passable but driving times will be dramatically increased. The N11 through Wicklow and all national routes in the north west of the country are expected to be particularly dangerous.

Michael Phillips, director of traffic and city engineer with Dublin City Council, said the local authority would mobilise staff to clear the footpaths to ensure that there's safe passage. Some 1,100 employees will be mobilised for that purpose.

"There is no shortage of salt, it is being continuously delivered as opposed to last January when we had to ration it," he said. "The main issue is that, like all local authorities in the country, we have limited resources and we have to optimise those resources."

South Dublin Co Council said it had a full supply of salt and all its gritting trucks were deployed and were out as early as 4am this morning.

Irish Independent

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