More than 70,000 tonnes of salt is stockpiled and ready for deployment across the Ballymena and Antrim area should bad weather make an impact this winter.
Roads Minister Chris Hazzard urged local drivers to take extra care as he announced the start of the annual roads winter safety service.
He said: “While we can’t predict the weather winter may bring, the public can be assured that my winter safety service is now up and running and whatever the weather, will be working to keep our main roads open.
“Over 70,000 tonnes of salt is stockpiled and Reserve stocks of around 20,000 tonnes of salt are also available at strategic locations and additional salt bins are provided on a self help basis on routes not included on the salting schedule.”
TransportNI Northern Division Manager Deidre Mackle added: “Throughout the winter season from now until the middle of April, we will have 78 staff on standby to salt main roads, helping drivers to cope with wintry conditions.
“Salt barns and stockpiles are being filled to maximum capacity in Northern Division which takes in the Mid and East Antrim district.
“When ice or snow is forecast, we have 38 gritters available which can salt the main network in just over three hours, a massive logistical exercise that costs around £20,000 each time it takes place.
“TransportNI will continue to provide salt bins and grit piles at strategic locations and will endeavour to replenish them during the winter. The salt bins and grit piles will be for use on a self help basis to help prevent the formation of snow and ice on pavements and untreated roads. “
Arrangements will also be in place to enlist the help of contractors, including farmers, to clear blocked roads and TransportNI has introduced enhanced communication arrangements and priority secondary salting to rural schools that are most affected by wintery weather conditions. “