Winter roads and gritting
To help improve driving conditions we grit the main roads when the road surface temperature is expected to fall below zero degrees and the road is damp.
Not all roads are salted and even on treated roads the weather can still make roads dangerous. You should always drive with caution in wintry conditions. Whenever you can, keep to the salted routes.
How is salting undertaken?
From November to April, we provide special cover 24 hours a day 7 days a week to respond to wintry weather affecting the roads. We monitor weather information to decide when to grit the roads. We grit the roads when the road surface temperature is expected to fall below zero, and damp conditions are expected. It is normally carried out after the evening peak traffic or before the early morning rush.
Once a decision is taken, all roads are gritted within 4 hours.
How does the council decide when to salt?
We receive weather reports at 1.00pm each day. We then plan any salting for that evening. Further weather reports will help to decide whether the planned gritting is to go ahead or not. We also have three weather stations that monitor the road surface temperature. This system monitors actual road conditions showing road and air temperature, wind speed and 'dew point' and the amount of salt on the road surface.
This system ensures that we can measure the amount of salt used and make sure we do not put down too much. This is particularly important as a single night of salting can cost as much as £8000.
Are all roads salted?
No, we salt about 480km (45%) of the roads in the county. The routes are based upon the type of road and its importance in keeping traffic moving. All major roads are treated as well as key local roads such as those that serve industrial or shopping centres, access to hospital A&E departments or those on main bus routes. Link roads and roads with high traffic flows are also prioritised. Very few housing estate roads are gritted and those are generally only covered where they form a link between other parts of the network.
What about areas which are not on gritting routes?
Hundreds of salt bins are sited county wide at strategic locations. They are available to the public for immediate use on adopted roads when adverse conditions are experienced. The grit in the bins is not for private use on private driveways etc. and should only be used on the adopted public highways.
What about footways?
Pavements and cycle routes are not routinely pre-salted. After prolonged snow or ice we will grit town centre pedestrianised areas, pavements that give access to schools, hospitals and homes for the elderly, busy urban and town centre footways and paths that are on a steep hill.