O’Dowd in gritting call

BALLYNERY North Road will not be included in Roads Service’s winter gritting scheme.

Sinn Fein councillor Mairead O’Dowd described the news as “disappointing”.

Cllr O’Dowd contacted Road Service management after residents and others who use the road as a route to work contacted her.

“As a result of representations I had made to them, the Road Service conducted a survey which revealed that the volume of traffic was 600 vehicles below the figure required for consideration for a gritting scheme,” she said.

“This strict adherence to a rigid numerical criteria is disappointing.

“I’m surprised that the volume of traffic required to trigger the implementation of a winter gritting scheme is the same for all classes of road and that numbers rather than dangers are the major factor.

“The Ballynery North Road has an undulating surface and is so narrow a car has to drive close to the edge when meeting a heavy vehicle such as bus or a lorry.

“This road caters for the heavy traffic to and from a major Water Treatment Plant and it is inconceivable that these circumstances wouldn’t be taken into consideration.”

Cllr O’Dowd asserted that a review of the criteria was needed and that a more “common sense approach” was required.

She called on the minister for regional development to honour the commitments made by his party last year and review the criteria.

“Minister Kennedy and his party colleagues were extremely vocal in voicing impossible demands from the Department of Regional Development in the midst of last winter’s exceptional and extraordinary weather conditions,” she said.

“I am not making such ridiculous demands, but I am asking for a common sense approach.

“1,500 vehicles on a motorway is incomparable to, and presents less of a danger than 900 vehicles on an undulating, narrow road which has substantial drops at the edge of the tarmac.

“The criteria for winter gritting have to be reviewed and adjusted to take account of the individual danger features of each roadway and I call on the Minister to begin such a review as a priority.”