Salt stocks at critical level

Donegal County Council's salt supplies were described as critical yesterday with just 600 tons left before last night's treatment of the roads.

Donegal County Council's salt supplies were described as critical yesterday with just 600 tons left before last night's treatment of the roads.

The council says it has received salt supplies from the National Roads Authority (NRA) in recent days. The level of supply from the NRA has enraged politicians in the county with claims that the county has been abandoned. The council has been forced to reduce the priority routes that will be salted by two thirds.

The NRA had been responsible for the acquisition of salt throughout the country but Donegal county Council was given permission on Wednesday night to acquire its own supplies.

Efforts have been made by the council to acquire salt since last week but an independent supply of salt is not expected in the county until the middle of January.

Senior Roads Engineer Michael McGarvey said all roads were passable last night, with the exception of the back of Errigal road which has been closed since Friday. A decision was due to be taken whether to re-open the road today. The mountain road from Carndonagh to Dumfries in Inishowen had been closed from Friday as well but was reopened yesterday (Monday).

Road temperatures of below -10 had been experienced on roads during the day on Monday but it was hoped last night that Donegal would escape more snow last night.

Motorists on all roads, even national primary routes, have been encountering stretches of baked snow.

"With temperatures continuing to drop we are asking people to take extreme care," Senior Roads Engineer Michael McGarvey said.

"We have been replenishing stocks a few days a week but supplies of salt are becoming more and more critical. I don't want to dramatise it too much but the salt stock is at and is continuing to be at critical levels. We are getting salt though the NRA and there is none available outside of the NRA framework until the middle of January."

Meanwhile drivers were continuing to be urged by the county council not to make non-essential journeys. If journeys must be made, motorists have been advised to carry blankets, a shovel and sand or grit and to enure they have a fully-charged mobile phone in case they become stranded.

The county council road safety officer, Eamonn Brown, said: "The best advice is to assess your journey and if you don't have to make it don't, or delay it if you can.

"But we know that the time of year we are in that when people are making those calculations they are going to go on journeys that they probably would not go on at other times of the year."

Motorists must take common sense precautions, he said. "Ensure all your windows are ice-free and clear of snow, not just a little area on your windscreen.

"Check tires and ensure you have a good level of tread on them. It would be recommended that you have 3mm, not just the bare legal of 1.6mm.

"If you consider your car is in good enough condition, have some blankets in the boot, ensure your mobile phone is fully charged and carry a shovel and some sand or grit in your boot that you can use to get your self out of a sticky situation."

The county council has also advised motorists to use dipped head lights during the day so you are easily seen and check headlights and tail lights are in working order.

Motorists are also asked to understand their brakes and allow extra distance between the car in front.

Drivers have also been asked to be aware of the dangers of black ice and watch out for sheltered/ shaded areas on roads, under trees and near high walls.