There is 3,223km of road network in Kilkenny, and 427km (15%) is Priority 1 and 2
This year’s plan to keep the county’s busiest roads free of ice and frost this winter has swung into effect.
At the October meeting of Kilkenny County Council, senior engineer Seamus Kavanagh told members that the plan was the same as for previous years. Daily monitoring of the road network as part of the plan has now begun.
Last winter was generally very mild, with far fewer treatment nights required than in 2017/18. Monday evening was the first night out as part of this winter plan.
Each route takes about four hours to treat. The objective is to keep priority one and two routes frost and ice free 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Cllr Patrick O’ Neill, who also raised the issue last year, said he had concerns about the roads on both the Gowran and Danesfort sides, which were left untreated late into the day.
“I sound like a broken record saying this — but it is an issue in severe weather conditions in Bennettsbridge,” he said.
The Fine Gael councillor said it was a safety issue for children going to school, and he had seen cars sliding down the hill sideways. He said the spreader trucks could go on 500m on either side, and there was room to turn at the top of each hill.
Cllr Pat Fitzpatrick said that the secondary school in Castlecomer was another ‘pinch point’ in terms of wintry roads. He said it was not such an issue last year, but the previous year had proven very challenging.
“It’s less than 126m up to the school from the junction, and it’s a steep hill, and there is a large student population on it,” he said.
“I’m asking you to have a look and see what can be done.”
He also asked if arrangements were in place with the Irish Farmers Association (IFA).
Cllr Matt Doran said that all councillors’ areas had particular needs and demands. Cllr Malcolm Noonan said he was happy to propose the winter services plan. He acknowledged last year had been a mild winter, but said in the city, there were many footpaths that had proven difficult to navigate for children going to school. He asked if there was any way to calibrate the gritter so that it covered these also.
Cllr Eamon Aylward asked if the local area engineers should have discretion about the routes to be treated. Cllr Fidelis Doherty said she wanted to support this idea.
Cllr John Brennan said that early intervention could make some of the problems preventable, by clearing leaves from blocking up dykes. He supported Cllr Fitzpatrick’s comments about engaging with the IFA.
“There’s no point leaving out a load of grit in rural areas if no one is going to spread it,” he said.
Responding to the members, Mr Kavanagh said there was 3,223km of road network in the county, and 427km (15%) is Priority 1 and 2 — which sees the majority of traffic. He said the local area engineers would also be discussing the plan at Municipal District level.
In particularly severe conditions, the council will provide maintenance of Priority 3 routes, but motorists are advised not to assume these routes have been pre-salted.