Shropshire’s gritting teams will be keeping a close eye on the weather forecast this week to see if they may be needed to work over Christmas.
Whenever the road temperature is forecast to fall to zero Centigrade or below, the county’s gritters – and their drivers – treat roads across the county, to help keep them safe for all road users.
Since October the gritters have already been out 14 times, spreading 17,000 tonnes of salt on Shropshire roads – and they’re ready to go out over Christmas if the conditions require it.
Shropshire Council and its highways maintenance provider, Kier, have 28 gritters – along with nine footway ploughs, and nine snow blowers – ready to treat a primary gritting network of 2561km (1591 miles) – plus a secondary network of 1184km (735 miles).
The fleet also includes a number of new mini gritters, with crews on standby to treat town centre roads, pavements and car parks.
Shropshire Council also maintains 850 local salt bins during the winter, and people can use salt from their local salt bins to treat pavements and roads.
For more, see this video…
Dan Morris, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for highways, said:
“A great amount of work and planning has gone into keeping us all safe this winter and our highways teams are prepared for whenever the worst of the weather hits.
“Every year, when the wintry weather arrives, our gritters and their fantastic crews go out to grit the county’s roads – keeping them safe and accessible during spells of ice and snow, and helping to keep Shropshire moving in even the worst of the weather.
“Often working late at night, early in the morning, on weekends, and possibly even over Christmas, we may not see them, but they’re out there, and we’re very grateful that they are. That’s why I want to say a big thank you to all of our gritter drivers and crews for the work they will be carrying out in the coming months to keep our roads safe.”
Ian Mclellan, general manager at Kier Transportation, added:
“We have 19 weather stations in place across the network, providing prompt updates to our teams to ensure a swift response to changing conditions so that we’re ready, whatever the weather.
“We are committed to providing the county’s road users with the best possible experience and are proud that our partnership with Shropshire Council is providing real benefits to the people of Shropshire.”
The gritters are owned by Shropshire Council and located at the council’s highways depots in Shrewsbury, Craven Arms and Whittington.
In addition, many contractors and farmers have snow-clearing equipment and the council’s divisional officers deploy this supplementary equipment following heavy snowfall in rural areas.
For more information on Shropshire’s gritting routes and grit bins click here.
Shropshire Council has launched a new initiative supporting all Shropshire schools to maintain footpaths close to their schools free, by providing salt and salt spreaders. Information is available by emailing email@example.com
Where do we grit?
When ice or snow is predicted, pre-salting is carried out over priority roads, referred to as the defined network. This is around 28% of the total road network in Shropshire, and includes:
- All A and B roads
- Localised high-risk sites and important access routes
- Major town centre shopping areas
- Heavily used footways and cycle routes – during periods of prolonged sub-zero temperatures
How do we decide when to send the gritters out?
Shropshire Council and our contractors keep a weather-eye on temperatures throughout the winter.
We subscribe to weather forecasting services from The Met Office.
From October to April we get:
- A morning summary
- A 24-hour forecast each morning.
- A five-day forecast each afternoon.
- Ice prediction graphs each afternoon.
- Regular updates.
We also subscribe to a 24-hour consultancy service from The Met Office.
All that data helps us make informed decisions, but we also have inspectors on call that can go out and see the situation on the ground. These are officers with years of experience between them who know when to react to local conditions and deploy more resources as required.
When all the indicators are in place – generally when the road surface temperature is forecast to drop to zero or below – we’ll send the gritters out from our depots for what we call ‘pre-salting’. This is a preventative measure to stop ice forming on the roads.
In extreme circumstances, we’re aiming to remove ice that’s already formed, and that’s called post-salting.
Kier has sufficient drivers to operate all of the above routes 24 hours a day, and additional staff available to deal with other winter maintenance duties as required, e.g. clearing snow from footways.