Newry.ie

A team of 91 staff and 38 gritters are available in the district in the event of wintry weather conditions.

The Department for Infrastructure is advising all drivers to exercise caution and drive with due care and attention in the more challenging conditions that winter can bring. Road surface temperatures are usually a few degrees lower, so drivers should not rely on in-car temperature sensors as an indicator of possible frost/ice.

When ice or snow is forecast, gritters can salt the main network in just over three hours. Salting all roads on the schedule is a massive logistical exercise that costs around £80,000 each time it takes place.

Preparations are in place for winter snowfalls in the district. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Preparations are in place for winter snowfalls in the district. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Southern Divisional Roads Manager Simon Richardson confirmed arrangements for the local area saying “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.  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 80,000 tonnes of salt is stockpiled across Northern Ireland and ready to be used when ice is forecast.

“In Southern Division from now until the middle of April, we will have 91 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 & Craigavon, Ards and North Down and Newry, Mourne & Down.

“When ice or snow is forecast, we have 38 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.

Arrangements are also 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 falls.

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.”

Information about road conditions is available at WWW.TRAFFICWATCHNI.GOV.UK

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