Gritting teams at Rochdale Borough Council are ready to provide a swift response to forecasts of ice, sleet and snow this winter.
Seven gritting vehicles are now on standby and ready to respond to unpredictable conditions in order to keep the borough’s roads safe in the worst winter weather.
Councillor Jacqui Beswick, Cabinet Member for Place and Regulation, said, “To grit local roads effectively, our teams often have to respond to changing, unpredictable conditions. Our quick response can counter some very difficult driving conditions promptly.”
“Drivers of the gritting wagons are on call 24 hours a day seven days a week in order to keep the roads as safe and as passable as possible, even if that means going out on Christmas Day.”
When snow or icy conditions are forecast, the team carry out precautionary gritting and snow clearing, with snow ploughs fitted to all vehicles when necessary.
Peter O’Gorman, Highway Maintenance Team Leader at the council, added: “In a typical winter, we will salt or clear snow from the roads on average 145 times. Most of this is carried out at night or early morning and many people aren’t even aware of it.
“We don’t treat all the roads but we do cover major routes which is about 50 per cent, or 320 km of the total road network. This includes the main roads that link townships across the borough, as well as all bus routes and access to hospitals.
“We currently have 4,000 tonnes of rock salt in storage and this will be increased to 5000 tonnes in early November; and on average we use about 5300 tonnes each year. However a weekly report on salt usage is sent to our suppliers so that we can top up supplies if required.”
The council is in direct contact with the Met Office throughout the winter and gets a daily weather forecast specifically designed to give information about road surface temperatures and the likelihood of ice or snow appearing. This is monitored 24hours a day seven days a week throughout the winter. This information is used in conjunction with a computerised ice detection system and if frost, ice or snow is likely then the team hit the road.
Residents can view the gritting routes via the ‘Gritting and winter service’ pages at www.rochdale.gov.uk
Peter added: “Gritting can only do so much and we recommend that drivers always check the weather forecast before they set out and consider if the journey is really necessary.
“If however, you really do have to drive please follow some of our top driving tips.” Top tips for driving in extreme weather:
- Allow extra time for your journey
- Make sure you have enough fuel
- Check your battery is alright
- Check your tyres are suitable
- Carry a shovel in the boot
- Carry a bit of rock salt (available from builder’s merchants)
- Don’t over-rev the engine or your wheels will spin
- Use as high a gear as possible to improve grip
- Build your speed up slowly on hills
- Always brake gently and in plenty of time
- Don’t block junctions or roundabouts
- Keep more distance than usual from the car in front
- Give cyclists more space
- Keep a look out for pedestrians - particularly at zebra crossings, pelican crossings and outside schools
- Push broken down vehicles off the carriageway - abandoned cars are one of the main obstacles which get in the way of snow ploughs
“A sudden change in weather is not unusual and we urge everyone to cut their speed and drive carefully when conditions deteriorate. Please also remember, during times of heavy snow many people experience difficulties, so if you can, please try and help others,” Councillor Beswick added.
The authority also has over 455 salt bins strategically positioned around the borough in areas where particularly difficult conditions exist.
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