DfI ROADS has declined to say whether more routes in the Glenelly Valley will be included in the winter gritting schedule, despite a huge salting gap being identified in the area.
Last month a deputation at council by the department’s Network Maintenance manager Alan McMurray demonstrated that DfI Roads focuses its winter service resources on the 28 per-cent of the network, which carries 80 per-cent of the vehicle km travelled. This covers in excess of 7,000, the equivalent distance from Belfast to Moscow and back.
However a map on Mr McMurray’s report showed that a large swathe of north Tyrone is not included in the service. This, a local councillor has said, is tantamount to postcode discrimination.
“The map shows that the gritters don’t go into the Glenelly Valley,” independent councillor, Patsy Kelly remarked.
“At the meeting I asked why this is the case because residents in this area have to travel to work and school like residents in any other part of the country. As far as I can see the gritters only go so far as Cranagh and that’s it.
“I can’t understand how this can be the case, given the number of users who travel on these roads. Blatantly, this is another example of local people being treated like second class citizens.
“I asked the representative from DfI Roads to go back and look at this because it’s clear from the map that this is discrimination.”
However when contacted by this newspaper, the department refused to say whether the Glenelly Valley would even be reviewed for any future gritting.
A DfI spokesperson said: “The department delivers a winter service programme to mitigate, as far as is reasonably possible, the effects of adverse winter weather. At times of ice and snow DfI deploys around 300 staff and a fleet of 130 gritters – working round the clock when needed – to salt the 107 routes that make up the 7,000km of the network on the salting schedule.
“In general, the main through routes that carry more than 1,500 vehicles per day and, in exceptional circumstances, roads carrying between 1,000 and 1,500 vehicles per day are salted.”
They added, “In Western Division specifically there are 35 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.
“The gritting criteria is applied consistently across all four divisional areas.”