Our fleet of 23 gritters are ready to be called upon as soon as it gets cold over the upcoming months.
We will be maintaining the extended gritting service of last year, with approximately 900 miles of road up for treatment in 2020/21.
What roads do we treat?
We treat over a fifth of Somerset’s roads, marked in red on the map. Our main priority is to keep the busiest routes clear whenever ice or snow is expected. We try to prioritise roads that link major towns, villages and communities on high ground and the important routes across the County for long distance travel.
For this year, selected roads around the improved M5 Junction 25 in Taunton are being added to the programme, although it’s important to note that the M5 itself, the A303 and the A36 are looked after by Highways England. We also try and maintain access for emergency services, including Fire and Rescue, Police, Ambulance Services and A&E hospitals, along with principal public transport routes and larger schools.
When do the gritters come out?
We carry out gritting when road surface temperatures are predicted to drop below 1°C and ice or snow is expected. Precautionary gritting normally takes place before the formation of ice – so that generally means our teams are out in the evening or early morning.
In the event of snow, we have established plans in place, working alongside the emergency services and partners to clear the network as quickly as possible. We can equip our gritters with snowploughs and have arrangements with farmers and snowplough operators who are employed to clear snow on our behalf. We prioritise our primary network and move on to clear our secondary and minor networks as resources allow.
Why don’t we salt every road in Somerset?
We can’t treat every road, as there aren’t enough gritters, drivers and depot staff to make this cost-efficient. However, we are carrying on our work with parish councils to fill roadside grit bins on request and are continuing to run a community-led snow warden scheme.
Rain can wash salt away and in very low temperatures gritting may not be enough to prevent freezing – so drivers are always advised to take extra caution in winter.
Only the busiest roads are gritted, and most are not, so ensure you plan ahead and drive carefully, particularly if frost has followed rain. Remember to:
- Prepare your vehicle for winter
- Allow extra time for your journey
- Give gritters and snow ploughs plenty of room
- Carry a shovel and blankets in your vehicle
For more information about Somerset County Council’s winter service programme, including a searchable map showing all the roads treated, please visit www.travelsomerset.co.uk/gritting and follow @TravelSomerset on Twitter.
The Road Safety team also have plenty of advice for road users in the winter months, so make sure to follow @SCC_RoadSafety and visit their website www.somersetroadsafety.org for more.