With the first frost of the winter due in some areas tonight (Tuesday) the Department for Infrastructure says its winter safety service is now fully operational and “ready to keep people moving on our roads”.
Southern Divisional Roads Manager Simon Richardson confirmed arrangements for the local area were ready to go.
“At this time of year darker evenings and lower temperatures can make driving conditions more difficult and we advise all road users to take extra care,” he said.
“The Department’s winter safety service is up and running and, whatever the weather, we will be working to keep our main roads open. Over 90,000 tonnes of salt is stockpiled across the north and ready to be used when ice is forecast.
“In Southern Division from now until the middle of April, we will have 74 staff on standby to salt main roads, helping drivers to cope with wintry conditions.
“Salt barns and stockpiles are being filled to maximum capacity in the Division which carries out salting in the council areas of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon and Newry, Mourne and Down.
“When ice or snow is forecast, we have 31 gritters available which can salt the main network in just over three hours, a massive logistical exercise that costs around £20,000 each time it takes place.
“As in previous years, arrangements are in place to enlist the help of contractors and local farmers to assist in efforts to clear blocked roads in the event of significant snow.”
The Department is advising motorists to exercise caution and drive with due care and attention in the more challenging conditions that winter can bring.
Mr Richardson continued: “Even with the most careful and thorough planning, the use of special Met Office forecasts and the latest ice prediction technology, winter service is a battle against the elements and ice-free roads cannot be guaranteed.
“We all need to be mindful of the changing conditions and adjust the way we drive, ride or cycle to ensure it is appropriate for the conditions. The best advice is in the Highway Code –take extra care even if roads have been salted, be prepared for road conditions changing over short distances and take care when overtaking gritters.”
The Department’s Trafficwatch and Road Safety teams will continue to offer advice and guidance via social media to all road users, to help the public prepare for winter driving conditions and plan their route.
More information is also available in the Winter Service information leaflet ‘Keeping Traffic on the Move During Winter’ available to download at: www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/
Further advice on driving in adverse weather conditions is available on nidirect at:www.nidirect.gov.uk/