How we maintain and grit Shropshire’s roads in winter
Every year, when the wintry weather arrives, Shropshire Council and Kier – our partners in the Shropshire Highways alliance – go out to grit the county’s roads – keeping the county’s roads safe and accessible during spells of ice and snow, and helping to keep Shropshire moving in even the worst of the weather. This blog – and the video below – will tell you why, when, how and where we grit.
There are hundreds of miles of roads in Shropshire and thousands of journeys to be made ever day, so it’s important that we keep as many roads open as possible at all times. Throughout the year there’s a host of people working, sometimes through the night, to help you get where you need to be, even when temperatures plummet.
Shropshire Council and our contractors keep a weather-eye on temperatures throughout the winter – but how do we decide when to send the gritters out?
Firstly, we need reliable information.
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.
How much salt do we have?
At the start of the 2017/18 winter season we had 23,000 tonnes of salt in stock. As of 5 March 2018 we have 3850 tonnes in stock and more on order.
So what do we do?
When all the indicators are in place, we’ll send the trucks out from our five 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.
Where do we grit?
Keeping the roads clear is an expensive business so we have to prioritise.
This is what’s known as the ‘defined network’.
You can see a map of the defined network here.
We undertake ploughing in priority order, beginning with the defined network. At least one main access route to towns and large villages will be cleared as soon as practicable. We also deploy snow blowers to remove heavy snowfall during severe weather.
What vehicles do we use?
The gritters are owned by Shropshire Council and located at the council’s five highways depots.
In addition, many contractors and farmers have snow clearing equipment. Our divisional officers deploy this supplementary equipment following heavy snowfall in rural areas.
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.
Local salt bins
You can use salt from your local salt bin to treat pavements and roads around where you live – find your nearest by zooming in on your area on our gritting route map.
We’ve also teamed up with councils across the West Midlands to provide a regional picture of who’s gritting and when. If you’re on Twitter, you can get Twitter Gritter alerts by following #wmgrit.
Any questions? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel 0345 678 9018
Winter maintenance pages on the Shropshire Council website – click here
Full details of our Winter Service policy and gritting routes – click here.
Through our highways assets management strategy Shropshire Council and our partners Mouchel and Ringway work together to to make sure that our roads, pavements and bridges are safe for road users now and in the future.
To read the highways asset management strategy, click here
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