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Icy weather snow joke for commuters

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Icy weather snow joke for commuters thumbnailMotorists in the Ardmore area of Armagh faced sitting in tailbacks.

HEAVY snowfall brought misery to commuters across Armagh during last week's icy weather spell, with hazardous weather conditions creating widespread travel disruption and forcing some schools to close for a day.

Frustrated motorists in Armagh city sat in lengthly tailbacks during evening traffic as blustery snow showers fell persistently on Thursday evening.

Long queues were unavoidable in and around the city, including for motorists trying to get home in the Ardmore area, who were confronted by a stranded lorry. Social media users revealed on Facebook that thanks to kind-hearted locals who got hands on, the stranded driver was able to free the vehicle.

Elsewhere, there were reports of drivers abandoning their vehicles and traffic being brought to a standstill in the Hilltop area on the Newry Road.

There were also police reports of a minor single-vehicle collision occurring at Barrack Hill, along with a separate multiple vehicle collision on the Keady Road, which left one individual with minor injuries, according to a PSNI spokesperson.

By the next morning is was certainly a case of an unlucky 'Friday the 13th' for many, as the hazardous weather conditions forced schools in the wider Armagh area to stay closed for the day, leaving many parents scrambling to find alternative childcare arrangements.

Newtownhamilton Highand Newtownhamilton Primary were just two of a number of local schools that implemented exceptional closure days, along with Drumhillery PS in Middletown, Darkley Primary and Cortamet PS.

For schools closer to the city, pupils attended as normal at St Catherine's, St Patrick's Grammar and Royal School Armagh, which were all opened for the day.

Other secondary schools in the wider area were also operating as usual, including St Patrick's High in Keady and Markethill High, although some of the latter's school buses were cancelled due to the treacherous road conditions in outlying areas.

The situation has prompted local SDLP MLA, Justin McNulty to renew calls for Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard to review road gritting policy for rural routes. Currently only routes used by over 1,500 vehicles daily are included on the road schedule, with areas around schools only treated subject to time and resources under the Secondary Gritting Service, according to Mr McNulty.

"The Minister's policy is outdated and thus far he has refused to review the policy. Bottom line, it is second class treatment for rural communities," he claimed.

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