News

Only 5% of requested roads will be gritted

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

THE vast majority of rural country roads will not be added to gritting schedules this winter.

Only five per cent of roads in this area requested to be added to the gritting schedule have actually made the cut.

Since 2014, 20 requests have been made for roads within the hilly Dromara, Kilcoo and Banbridge areas to be gritted during cold, wintry periods.

However in the past 36 months, only one of these requests has been fulfilled.

The Department for Infrastructure confirmed the only route added to the schedule between 2014 and 2016 was Railway Street in Poyntzpass.

It was requested to be added to the schedule by NI Railway Co Ltd. The Department for Infrastructure said requests for inclusion on the gritting schedule are "considered using well established criteria which is made available to the public via the DFI website".

MLA Jo-Anne Dobson asked the Minister for Infrastructure Chris Hazzard to detail the roads included in the gritting schedule. Requests were made by members of the public, politicians and a school principal.

Mrs Dobson said: "The vast majority of requests to add ungritted roads to the schedule have been denied.  

“While the Minister tells me it is 'not possible to accept every request' - the facts show that his department has refused almost all requests made formally to his department either by myself, other elected representatives, a school principal, or members of the public.

“This shows a considerable lack of flexibility in the system which is perhaps designed to ensure that when concerns are flagged that roads end up not meeting the criteria set to add them to the schedule. That suggests to me that the criteria needs to be changed.

“I believe that when concerns of road safety are made that they should be appropriately assessed and there should be greater flexibility to add roads which are known to the community as unsafe in either ice or snow to the gritting schedule in the interests of public safety," said Mrs Dobson.

The Aughnaskeagh Road, Dromara had been requested to be added to the winter gritting schedule by the NI Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY).

Other roads that have been requested to be added to the gritting schedule include car parks in Banbridge, the Tulliniskey Road in Kinallen where Fair Hill Primary School is located, Clonvaraghan Road in Castlewellan, Bannview Road in Banbridge and Fofanny Road.

Minister Chris Hazzard said that his department "receives many requests each year for roads to be included on the salting schedule".

“I am sure the member will appreciate that for both financial and operational reasons it is not possible to facilitate every request. To ensure equity, all requests are subject to criteria based assessment.

“In order for a road to be included in the salting schedule it shall be: a motorway or trunk road, a main route - i.e. a through route carrying more than 1,500 vehicles per day, another busy route with special difficulties - i.e. a through routes carrying between 1,000 and 1,500 vehicles per day where there are special difficulties for example railway crossings, height above sea level, extent and severity of gradients etc. a link to a small settlement containing 100 dwellings or more (via the shortest route to the salting schedule).

“Account shall also be taken of the availability of alternative or parallel routes and where parallel routes are available, the routes qualifying under points two and three above need not be salted.

“My Department targets its limited resources available for winter service on the busier main routes," said Mr Hazzard.

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