Havoc on icy roads

NO SIGN OF GRITTERS

OLIVIA RYAN

Published 05/12/2012 | 10:16

DUNDALK faced an icy start this on Tuesday as ungritted roads caused havoc for peak-time traffic.

Despite temperatures dipping below freezing in the early hours, gritters were nowhere to be seen, leaving dangerous conditions on many roads around town.

An overturned car on the Tain Bridge, pictured below, led to long tailbacks on the Inner Relief Road before 9am, while slippy conditions along minor routes also caused difficulty for motorists.

Louth County Council admitted that gritters were not deployed on Monday night or the following morning, saying that the icy conditions were simply 'not predicted'. ' There was no gritting last night as no frost was predicted,' said a council spokesman. He explained that the local authority rack an 'ice cast' system which works via sensors that are placed on various roads around the county.

' There had been rain the previous night, but around 3 a.m. the temperature dropped to 0.2 below zero.'

' These were unpredicted conditions, which is very rare. The conditions are carefully monitored by engineers, but we will be looking at the system again,' said the spokesman.

He added that the gritters had in fact been out every night over the last week, except for Monday night.

But the council has come under fire for failing to ensure gritters were out in force when roads began to freeze.

' There is plenty of salt, and we have gritting crews on standby. But the frost was not predicted.'

Louth county councillor Martin Murnaghan said he would be calling for a 'fallback' system to be put in place, if the ice cast system failed to highlighted icy roads.

'Our gritting crews throughout the county are excellent, and if they got the call to go out last night they were ready to. But unfortunately they did not get that call, and roads were particularly bad in some areas this morning.'

He planned to raise the issue at area meetings in north Louth this week to call for a back up system that would alert the local authority to frosty conditions.

'I will also be calling for a dedicated phone number to be made available to the public, where people can contact to report black ice. This number should be advertised through the local media.'

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