Motorway ‘mystery’

A SENIOR engineer with Laois County Council has described it as “a mystery” how a stretch of motorway salted by the roads department became the scene of several minor car crashes last Wednesday (November 28).

A SENIOR engineer with Laois County Council has described it as “a mystery” how a stretch of motorway salted by the roads department became the scene of several minor car crashes last Wednesday (November 28).

Ms Orla Barrett explained that with the onset of last week’s icy weather, which saw sub-zero temperatures rendering the country’s roads extremely hazardous, the council salted the county’s motorways and regional roads on Monday and again last Tuesday.

Despite this, a series of crashes last Wednesday forced Gardaí in Laois to close a stretch of the M7 from junction 14 (Monasterevin) to Junction 15 (Ballybrittas), both southbound and northbound.

Gardai said all the incidents were minor single vehicle collisions and there were no injuries.

Speaking after the road closure to the Leinster Express, Ms Barrett described the collisions as “baffling” as the roads were salted at a heavy rate and said the council are still trying to establish what happened.

“The nearby regional roads were treated as well and there were no incidents there. We’re trying to see if it is an isolated cold-snap area,” she said,

Ms Barrett explained that 20 grams of salt per metre square was laid down on Tuesday evening and the monitors used to measure the readings throughout the night indicated there was salt on the road continuously.

She pointed out that temperatures were actually colder the previous night when less salt was put down and no accidents occurred then.

Ms Barrett said she suspected the adjacent forestry area may have contributed to a decreased local temperature, although she admitted there were “a lot of ifs and buts” as to what actually happened.

The engineer confirmed that following the traffic collisions the motorway was closed and the council sent two lorries to re-salt the area.

She added that the council have adequate salt supplies to deal with any further bad weather.

“We have more than we need - there’s no issue with a lack of salt,” she said.

Raymond James of Laois County Council confirmed that as of last week the council had some 300 tonnes of salt already stored at Clonkeen, with an additional 500 tonnes set to be hauled from Waterford port.

He said that more salt can be ordered quickly if needed and there should be no issue with the council’s salt reserves this winter.