Highways ready for winter with seven new gritters

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Cllr David Fothergill and Skanska Site Agents Ian Harris and Steve Whitchurch with the seven new gritters at the Glastonbury depot

Somerset County Council’s highways team are ready for winter with seven new gritters to keep roads safe when temperatures plummet.

The County Council has a fleet of 23 gritters and a stockpile of 7,000 tonnes of salt at depots across Somerset, ready to treat around 900 miles of road every time ice is expected.

Cllr David Fothergill, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “The average life of a gritter is around seven years, after that maintenance costs go up rapidly, so it’s important that we keep our fleet up to date so we can cope with everything winter can throw at us.

“The advanced technology in new gritters also allows us to reduce the amount of salt used which helps us reduce ongoing costs and is better for the environment.

“This year we’ll continue to treat around 21 per cent of our highways network, keeping the busiest routes clear whenever ice is expected.”

Gritting 2015

Somerset County Council carries out gritting when road surface temperatures are predicted to drop below zero and frost or ice is expected. Precautionary salting normally takes place in the evening or early morning but additional action may be required during extreme weather.

Rain can wash salt away and in very low temperatures salting may not be enough to prevent freezing – so drivers are always advised to take extra caution in winter.

Cllr Fothergill added: “Our highways team do a fantastic job through the deepest darkest depths of winter, but please heed the general guidance to stay safe when the temperature plummets. Never assume a road has been salted and always drive according to the road conditions.”

Throughout the winter you can receive live updates on gritting activity directly from the highways team by following @somersetgritter on Twitter.

For more information about Somerset County Council’s winter maintenance programme, including maps of all the roads treated, please visit www.somerset.gov.uk/winterservice.

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The salt barn at Glastonbury. Around 7,000 tonnes of salt are used across Somerset in an average winter.