Hampshire’s winter vehicles are ready to roll, including Mr Grit, Mr Plough and Rainbow Rocks, named by local primary school children, just three of Hampshire Highways’ fleet of 51 salting vehicles which will be on 24 hour standby, seven days a week, from 1 October right through until April 2016, to deal with wintery conditions.
The fleet have already been out on the roads to ensure they are ready for action. Around 3,700 community salt bins are being filled so people can play their part keeping smaller roads and pavements clear of snow and ice Weather and actual road conditions are also being remotely monitored around the clock – with staff on standby ready to act at a moment’s notice. Did you know two salt runs were undertaken on Christmas Day last year?
Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment, Councillor Seán Woodward, said: “This year’s fleet is more impressive than ever with a higher proportion of advanced dedicated spreaders out on the road to tackle what might be coming our way. With the opening of our two new salt storage barns at Broadmarsh in Havant, last year, we have plenty of salt to spread on Hampshire’s major road network should we experience a prolonged dip in temperatures.
“Our priority is to keep Hampshire moving throughout the winter and for residents to be able to go about their day to day business, accessing key amenities such as hospitals, doctor’s surgeries and schools. However, we do ask for a little help from Hampshire’s residents – salt bins are out there to be used for the benefit of your local community so please do help yourselves and your neighbours should the time arise.”
With 5,280 miles of road in Hampshire, highways teams treat them on a priority basis. ‘Priority One’ routes carry the majority of the total traffic in Hampshire and include A roads, some B roads, major bus routes, roads to major emergency services, large schools, areas of high traffic concentration and all public transport areas.
These Priority One routes are routinely treated when the road surface temperature is forecast to drop below zero degrees celsius and ice / frost is predicted. It can take approximately three and a half hours to treat a Priority One route.
During prolonged severe weather, ‘Priority Two’ routes, which include remaining B roads and single access roads to villages, may be treated. Additionally, our community routes can also be treated to ensure roads to other smaller schools, GPs surgeries and areas of community activity are usable.
A number of factors are considered when deciding when to salt the roads, including using a dedicated local weather forecast, and our Icelert system which consists of a number of remotely monitored roadside sensors which detect road and air temperatures, and conditions such as wind speed and direction, rainfall, and ice formation.
John Maddy, Principal Operations Manager at Amey, said: “Our highways team has been busy preparing for the winter months, including taking delivery of new vehicles for the winter gritting service. All of our vehicles have undergone their annual service and maintenance checks, and completed test runs, and are now based at the highways depots throughout the county. We’ve also run an in-house training programme for our drivers to familiarise themselves with the new vehicles, and trained up additional drivers for this winter to offer more resilience when the weather starts to turn colder.”
For more information on winter maintenance visit: www.hants.gov.uk/winter-maintenance. Members of the public can also get live updates of when and where road salting is taking place by following @hantshighways or @hantsconnect. If you see one of our named gritters out on the road send us a picture on Twitter saying where you spotted it!