Somerset County Council’s fleet of 23 gritters is ready to be mobilised as soon as the temperature drops below zero in coming months.
Salt barns across Somerset are fully stocked and this week the gritters headed out on a trial run across the county’s network. The team is on standby to treat 900 miles of road when the mercury plummets.
This year a call is going out to farmers across Somerset to support the Council’s winter services with snow ploughing duties should conditions become challenging. Farmers are paid for this important work they undertake to support their communities.
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Last year our fleet of nearly two dozen gritters went out on 59 occasions when freezing temperatures were forecast, covering 45,000 miles to help prevent ice forming with 1181 route actions in total.
“As days become shorter and evenings colder, safety on our roads remains paramount to us. Our dedicated teams in each of our depots are ready and have ensured all equipment is checked, and our salt is stocked throughout the warmer months,” said Somerset County Council’s lead member for Transport and Digital, Councillor Mike Rigby.
“While temperatures currently remain mild, rest assured the team are checking the forecasts every day to ensure gritters are ready to go out.”
Daily gritting updates will be posted on Travel Somerset’s opens in a new windowTwitter page and opens in a new windowFacebook page channels throughout winter.
What roads do they treat?
They treat over a fifth of Somerset’s roads, opens in a new windowmarked in red on the map.opens PDF file Our gritting network covers all last year’s routes plus it has been increased slightly this winter.
Our main priority is to keep the busiest routes clear whenever ice or snow is expected. The priority is roads that link major towns, villages and communities on high ground and the important routes across the County for long distance travel.
When do the gritters come out?
They 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, they have established plans in place, working alongside the emergency services and partners to clear the network as quickly as possible. They can equip our gritters with snowploughs and have arrangements with farmers and snowplough operators who are employed to clear snow on our behalf. They prioritise our primary network and move on to clear our secondary and minor networks as resources allow.
Why don’t they salt every road in Somerset?
They can’t treat every road, as there aren’t enough gritters, drivers and depot staff to make this cost-efficient. However, they 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.