Winter’s on its way and the gritters are ready for action

essex-grittersWith the unseasonal mild spell due to come to an end this week, Essex Highways is urging drivers to always drive to the weather conditions in order to keep safe on the roads.

The Essex Highways winter travel web page contains useful information about salt bins, salting (gritting) routes and links to other winter-related advice about school closures, flooding alerts and health.

Essex County Council’s 59 gritters, which grit 2,500 miles of roads in the county using a mixture of salt and brine, are also ready for action.

The gritting service was the subject of a recent feature in the East Anglian Daily Times.

The EADT feature explained that a typical gritting run uses approximately 200 tonnes of salt and the council has stockpiled 15,500 tonnes of salt at seven depots around the county.

A decision to grit is made around midday each day based on the latest forecast. If the road surface temperature – not the air temperature – is due to drop to 1C (34F) or below then the gritters are sent out.

Robbie Jamieson, winter service manager at Essex Highways, told the EADT: “It has been uncharacteristically mild, but I think we might well have a cold snap at the end of the season, so we can’t be complacent. We are always in a state of readiness.

“Freezing rain is our worst nightmare, water freezing on impact with the ground. There is little we can do about that, which is why motorists must be careful.”

As well as the standard rock salt, gritters also lay down a brine solution with an optimum 23% white salt if the weather conditions are right. This brine sticks to the road surface, does not get blown away, and is more cost-effective. Gritters typically spread 70% rock salt and 30% brine.

Robbie Jamieson added: “Drivers have to expect the unexpected because we are dealing with the elements. Conditions can change rapidly, for the public and for us.

“The (gritter) drivers also feed back to us about conditions on their run. They are our eyes and ears on the ground.”

Eddie Johnson, Essex county councillor for highways delivery, said: “Our gritting team do a great job, from the people sitting at a desk planning which gritters should go out and where they should go, to the drivers in the gritter lorries.”

Follow @Essex_Travel and @EssexGritters for all the latest winter road updates from Essex County Council on Twitter, or visit the Highways Agency website for information about travel conditions on the A12, A120, M11 and M25.

11 January 2016

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