Improved efficiency means ice roads will be gritted despite less trucks

A gritting  lorry gets filled   at the Collon road store
Motorists need not fear icey roads this winter, despite less gritting trucks being on the road - that’s according to Louth County Council.

Motorists need not fear icey roads this winter, despite less gritting trucks being on the road - that’s according to Louth County Council.

A new system which will see a total of four trucks on the road, compared to the previous seven.

Sinn Fein councillors at the Dundalk Municipal Council meeting queried the safety of change, but Gerry Kelly, senior engineer Louth County Council gave a detailed explanation of how the new system using less trucks but more efficiently.

Currently the council have two of their own gritting machines operating, with two separate machines from private contractors filling the gap until the council buys two other machines.

Also, the practice of having two drivers on each gritting machine has changed, and just one driver will now take care of each route.

However because of an increased efficiency in how the trucks are used, the same amount of road will be covered in a shift.

Before the new system, 650km of national roads and regional roads, covering four different routes were covered in one shift by the county council.

Because of a new system, including GPS, the same 650km of routes will be covered in four with just four trucks instead of seven.

What’s more, that 650km of road will be gritted with the trucks travelling 150km less per night.

Previously the trucks were gritting for 60 per cent of the distance travelled to complete their routes. On the new system they will be gritting for an average of 75 per cent.

It was also noted by Mr Kelly that many of the trucks that had been use were “antiquated” and had to be stood down.

The two new trucks in use were described as being state-of-the-art.

Cllr Kevin Meenan asked whether the new system could deal with what he said has to been forecast as “one of the hardest winters in 100 years”, while Cllr Marianne Butler asked was there enough salt reserves for another cold winter similar to ones experience a number of years earlier when councils around Ireland ran out of salt.

Mr Kelly said that it would not be an issue, as the 1,800 tonnes of salt that they had would enough for the worst winter imaginable.

Cllr Mark Dearey said that the council have been given assurances regarding the system and that councillors need to take the council at their word.

“We trust the expert advice that we have been given on the matter,” and that “any councillor that suggesting the safety of the public is being compromised is talking rubbish”.

Cllr Sharkey questioned how many people were used in each truck last week, and he was told that on this occasion there had been two in each truck as the new routes were being learned, but that it would one person in each truck in future.