A number of extremely busy roads in the Armagh and wider area, not on winter salting schedule, having been last assessed eight years ago.
And one of those roads – the Rock Road in Armagh – has never been counted for traffic, despite the unprecedented increase in properties in recent years.
SDLP Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon has called on the Divisional Roads Manager to a review the decision not to have this road, along with the Clea Road in Keady and the Farnaloy Road in Madden, added to the salting schedule.
“For the past number of months I have stepped up my work to have a number of local roads included on the routine salting schedule,” stated councillor O’Hanlon.
“The Clea Road in Keady, the Farnaloy Road in Madden and the Rock Road on the edge of Armagh City are three very busy and heavily trafficked roads.
“Local residents in each area have been constantly raising concerns about the fact that the Department of Infrastructure don’t salt the roads and they were pleading for this to be changed.”
He added: “The Clea Road from Keady and the Farnaloy Road Madden are extremely busy roads. They both have a substantial number of residential properties, thriving primary schools and numerous businesses.
“The Farnaloy Road also has a housing estate, busy community centre with a crèche and has two churches. Whereas the Rock Road on the outskirts of Armagh City has almost a thousand homes; it has experienced substantial growth over recent years and its surface can be lethal on a cold and frosty morning.”
Having had his request to have the roads reviewed and included in the Winter Salting Schedule refused, councillor O’Hanlon asked the Department of Infrastructure to detail the last time when actual assessments, including having counters placed on the roads, took place.
“I was astonished to learn that the Rock Road has never been counted,” he said.
“The Clay Road was seven years ago in November 2011 and the Farnaloy Road was over eight years ago in June 2010.
“This is astonishing given the constant lobbying I and others have been involved in, including writing to numerous Roads Ministers over that time.”
To have a road included in the Winter Salting Schedule it must have 1,500 vehicle movements each day.
When last assessed in 2011 the Clay Road had 1331 vehicles per day, which was just 169 short of meeting the criteria.
The Farnaloy Road in 2010 had 1,028 vehicle movements per day and that was just 472 short of meeting the criteria.
Mr O’Hanlon continued: “In the intervening years there has been many new homes built on these routes, new businesses have opened and some have expanded not to mention the number of cars at each dwelling has increased.
“Roads Services own calculation allows for ten vehicle movements per day per dwelling, so this alone will have a huge impact.
“The refusal to even review or recount the vehicle movements at these locations is scandalous. I don’t ask for these reviews lightly, but because people are genuinely afraid to use the routes on cold and frosty morning.
“There have been accidents on all these roads, including one involving a school bus. To continue to say these routes benefit from secondary gritting is not acceptable, secondary gritting is a second class service and it cannot be tolerated.”
He concluded: “I have written to the Divisional Manager Simon Richardson and asked, given the passing of time since these routes were last assessed that a new assessment is carried out as a priority. It’s too late when someone loses their life and then its considered.”