Mayo County Council is gearing up to face potential disruption on the roads across the county in the coming months. At the roads and transportation strategic policy committee meeting this week in Belmullet, the local authority laid out its plan of action for the coming winter months. The cold snap that ground parts of the country to a halt last year cost Mayo County Council €1.8 million in total to deal with, the majority of the money going on the national primary and secondary road network.
“Last year we spent double what we had allowed for in budget time, and we are still waiting for some payment from the National Roads Authority to cover the costs we incurred over the period,” director of services Joe Beirne told the meeting.
In a presentation from Mr Carl Moran from the Mayo County Council machinery yard, it was revealed that routes have been divided into four different priorities, starting with national primary and national secondary routes and only when these had been treated would other routes be considered.
He also went on to say that Mayo County Council ordinarily treats 1,000km of road which includes 100 per cent of both the national primary and secondary road network, 78 per cent of the regional road network, and three per cent of the local road network. Mr Moran also told the meeting that as part of the winter weather maintenance programme Mayo County Council could call on 17 two person salt spreader crew, seven loading shovel drivers, two tractor drivers, the machinery yard foreman, three duty engineers on a rota basis, the area engineers, and the depot caretakers as part of its manpower to deal with the situation. Along with the work crew the council also has 11 salt spreaders on machinery yard tipper trucks, six salt spreaders for area pickup trucks, two tractor mounted spreaders, a number of snowblades, and one spreader on standby in case of breakdowns.
“As part of the plan we will have the routes publicised on the Mayo County Council website so people know which roads will be done, what we learned from last year was that people thought there wasn’t enough communication,” Mr Beirne said. “We also will have the emergency numbers that people can call on the website so that the public can get in touch with someone on the ground who will know what’s going on.”
Mr Beirne added that the council could not commit to leaving grit piles on rural roads. “When you use grit you also end up with a problem for the water services department where drains and gullies get blocked up after the ice melts and the flow towards it,” he said.
Mr Moran added: “The grit is only really good for the hard compacted ice to break it up, it’s not any good as a precautionary treatment for the ice.” Last year the cold spell happened during the Christmas holiday period, as part of his presentation Mr Moran told the members that there would be a winter service in operation from October 18 through to April 15, except from 7pm on December 24 to 4pm on December 26.