Suffolk is getting ready for winter – and the highways team has bought nine new Econ gritters to replace the ageing machines in our fleet. Meanwhile, a further 29 gritters have been upgraded since last autumn.
In all, we have 39 gritters each with an attachable snow plough and three ‘mini-gritters’ which are designed for areas with weight restrictions, for example bridges. In addition, our highways contractor Kier MG can call on further vehicles, should they be required. There are 112 drivers ready to keep the county moving when temperatures drop and we have frost and snow.
There are 1,225 miles of priority 1 gritting routes which are treated in advance of predicted ice or snow. It takes 2.5 hours to grit these 34 priority 1 gritting routes. When ice or snow is forecast to persist beyond 9am, a further 845 miles of priority 2 routes are treated, so long as gritters are not needed on the priority 1 roads.
Further information on priority one and priority two routes can be found on the county council website: www.suffolk.gov.uk/salting-gritting-and-snow-clearing
Suffolk Highways has stocks of almost 23,000 tonnes of salt and a network of more than 2000 community grit bins/heaps to enable people to help themselves in local communities.
The decision on whether to grit or not, is based on highly detailed forecasts of predicted road surface temperatures which can be different from the air temperature. Standard forecasts usually only refer to air temperatures. On average gritters are out on the network 60 times during the winter months.
· In addition to the work of the county-wide Suffolk Highways, borough and district councils support the winter response by clearing snow off footways on priority one routes.
· Farmers and local contractors are also on hand during periods of heavy snow to help keep the county moving with a range of equipment including powerful tractor ploughs, JCB type diggers and even snow blowers.