With further freezing temperatures forecast on top of Tuesday’s heavy rain, motorists throughout the Waterford region are being warned to remain on red alert.
With residents in many areas reporting that roads were never as dangerous as during the past week, the consequences of funding cuts for such basic services as gritting and salting have been scarily brought home.
Untreated – or at best barely gritted – surfaces in many parts of the county left motorists and pedestrians literally skating on thin ace.
The N25 was lethal for long stretches, as were almost all regional and local roads. Upland areas were hugely affected and minor accidents have been commonplace.
With some roads simply impassable and journeys generally risky, many events wisely fell by the wayside, including the annual St Stephen’s Day hunts in Tramore and Clashmore, though all the scheduled Christmas Day Swims went ahead.
A funeral planned to arrive in Touraneena on St Stephens Day for burial after 1pm mass did not arrive until past 4 o’clock.
Many people have complained that places which should have been prioritised for gritting – such as where minor roads meet major ones, with run-off water rapidly turning to ice – weren’t properly attended to. Damningly, the AA’s Conor Faughnan said it had received reports from gardaí that some main roads hadn’t been gritted at all.
Waterford County Council’s Director of Services Michael Quinn confirmed the other week that the local authority’s complement of outdoor staff is down by around 30 workers on top of a cutback in financial resources of 25%. Whether that has had an impact on safety isn’t yet clear.
While it’s hoped that extra supplies of grit and salt will be made available in time for this week’s even bigger freeze, Waterford Gardai have urged motorists to avoid all unnecessary journeys, and if they have to travel, to slow down and exercise extreme caution. [Additional reporting: Thomas Keane.]