THE BIG FREEZE LINGERS ON
Engineers at Cork County Council are expecting more problems with the roads of North East Cork when the sub zero weather abates and the thaw begins.
With almost four weeks of freezing weather, the likes of which has not been seen since 1982, officials at Cork County Council have confirmed that while they have now received a fresh supply of salt, it is not possible for them to grit every road across the county.
“Since December 9 our road crews have been out gritting the roads over 20 times. Normally we would grit the road about 15 times over the entire winter. Many roads had to be treated twice in one day so you can see the amount of work that has gone on over the last few weeks,” Aidan Weir, senior engineer at Cork County Council, told The Avondhu.
The council gritting teams are concentrating on the main roads and any local black spots, “Watergrasshill, Rathduff, and Rathcormac are all bad and we would advise extreme care on these roads. I know that in rural areas the road you live on is the most important road to you but we must prioritize national routes first and then the regional roads. I know that there have been calls in the media over the last few days for all roads to be gritted but this is not possible due to lack of manpower and scarcity of funds. There is over 3,000kms of public roads in our area so we must prioritize the major routes first,” Mr Weir continued.
Thaw problems However, while the freezing weather is causing problems for motorists now, Aidan Weir is concerned about the major problems that the thaw will bring.
“We are going to see major damage to road surfaces throughout the region when the thaw begins. The water that has turned to ice and expanded in the cracks in the roads will, once the thaws begins, cause potholes and I think we are going to have major problems with road surfaces in the coming months,” Mr Weir concluded.
FOUR CAR PILE UP
Gardai are also advising motorists to drive with extreme care after a four-car pileup blocked the M8 between Mitchelstown and Cashel on Tuesday morning.
“There have been many incidents of cars skidding off the roads into ditches, thankfully there has been very few if any injuries but we would advise motorists to reduce their speed on rural roads that may not have been gritted,” a garda spokesman told The Avondhu.
Icy footpaths and estate entrances were a particular hazard on Tuesday last as early morning snow flurries turned to ice leaving treacherous conditions for pedestrians in Mitchelstown and Fermoy.
The New Square in Mitchelstown remained frozen solid as The Avondhu went to press on this Wednesday although council workman had applied sand to sections of the footpaths.
“The paths were like a skating rink. It was really dangerous, “a visitor to the town told The Avondhu.
ADJOINING COUNRTY AREAS
Road conditions in south Limerick were also reported as being dangerous with extreme care advised when travelling between Ballylanders and Galbally.
“All the roads in the area are very icy but particular care is needed on the route to Kilfinane,” a Garda spokesperson told The Avondhu.
The roads in South Tipperary are also reported as being extremely icy especially around Clogheen and Burncourt, “ They have now been gritted for the first time since the bad weather started but many areas are still very dangerous,” local farmer, P.J.English, told The Avondhu.
West Waterford is also experiencing difficult driving conditions in the Lismore, Tallow and Ballyduff areas and caution is recommended when travelling on all roads in the county.
Farmers are also finding the freezing weather conditions difficult, “I have recorded temperatures here on the farm at minus 8, and getting water to the cattle is our main priority. Pipes are breaking and water troughs are freezing over so we have to make sure that we deal with these everyday so that the cattle will have access to water. I haven’t seen a gritting truck in operation in our area since the bad weather began, I know that the council have to look after the main roads first but, as far as I can see, none of the roads, main or otherwise, have been gritted in this area,” Galbally cattle farmer, Jim Fitzgerald, told The Avondhu.
Dairy farmers are also reporting major problems with equipment freezing and milk unable to get to creamery because of the road conditions. “For farmers that are milking constantly it makes it a bit easier but for those who will start milking in the coming weeks there will be problems with pipes and damaged equipment,” dairy farmer, Liam O’Doherty, said.
Overall, the coming weeks may prove to be just as challenging as the ice melts and the damaged is revealed.
Friday 8th January 10:23am