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SERVICES 
Wednesday, 2 January, 2002, 23:02 GMT
Anger over icy country roads
The Met Office has predicted a thaw is on the way
The Met Office has predicted a thaw is on the way
Northern Ireland's Roads Service has come under fire again this year from people living in isolated areas where icy roads were not gritted.

The freezing conditions which have gripped many parts of the province since Christmas are due to come to an end soon according to the Met Office.

But that is of little comfort to people living in areas where the roads were not salted.

Country roads near Ballymoney were among those not treated.

Jane McAneaney:
Jane McAneaney: "The bar has lost business"

One local resident said she was angry about the decision.

"The number of cars this last few days you could have counted on one hand," she said.

"This is usually a busy road, but people are just scared to come down that hill. The road is a death trap."

Meanwhile, the owners of the Anglers Rest Bar and Restaurant said they have lost business during the festive season because the road leading to the bar was not salted.

Jane McAneaney from the Anglers Rest said: "Normally here on a Sunday, we would have anything up 200 customers at a time.

Andrew Murray:
Andrew Murray: "It would cost too much to widen gritting routes"

"This Sunday we had 42 customers all day. That wouldn't even carry your staff.

"The roads are unusable. That's why people haven't been out."

This year the Roads Service used 14,000 tonnes of salt to grit main roads and those carrying more than 1500 vehicles a day during the bad driving conditions.

It covered 4,500 miles across Northern Ireland. That is the equivalent of a return trip between Belfast and Moscow.

The operation cost almost a million pounds.

Salting minor roads would cost too much, according to the service.

Dr Andrew Murray from the Roads Service said: "We treat about 30% of the roads in Northern Ireland. Those roads carry about 80% of the traffic.

"It costs us 5m a year to do that. If we were to try to cover 90% of the traffic, it would cost us an extra 5m per year because we would have to treat double the amount of roads we treat now."

On Wednesday evening the Met Office said a thaw had begun, and should continue overnight.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Noreen Erskine reports:
"Many road users in country areas were angry that their routes were not gritted"
See also:

02 Jan 02 | Northern Ireland
Motorists urged to take care
23 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Bets on for a white Christmas
28 Dec 00 | Northern Ireland
NI warning over 'treacherous' roads
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