With winter fast approaching, Lancashire County Council has dedicated members of its team working on their winter service.
A £4 million pound operation will ensure traffic can keep moving efficiently on the roads during the cold months ahead.
Approximately a third of Lancashire’s roads are considered a priority; these include all the ‘A class’ and ‘B class’ roads within its 6,961 kilometres of highway.
Roads that serve hospitals, ambulance and fire stations and run through large centres of population will be covered. 2,418 kilometres of this cannot be reached due to cost and impracticality.
The council are not responsible for certain roads leading to and from Preston. The highways agency is responsible for coverage of the M6, M55, M58, M61 and the M65 to Junction 10, the A56 between the M55 and Fleetwood.
The Met office supplies the council with daily weather forecasts between 1 October and 30 April giving specific information such as temperature, condition and humidity. This allows the gritters to be sent out when frosty and snowy conditions are predicted, as gritting can take several days to cover all routes plotted.
Rob Wilson, site manager at Cuerden Depot, Bamber Bridge, checks the weather from the met office constantly. Analysing precipitation and due points in the air, which helps predict where frost will form. “We need to know as much as possible where and when we need to grit, making sure the grit goes down at the right time.”
Ridwan Musa, Highways Operation Manager at the depot, explained that each of the 7 gritters at the Cuerden Depot could hold over 10 tonnes of grit. The salt, taken from Cheshire is “safe coated” which involves being treated with Molasses that helps it become 25% more resilient.
Gritting the roads is a job that goes unnoticed by the public at times, the gruelling hours and dangers however are very much real to the staff involved. Being out on the ice in a vehicle over 13 tonnes in weight can mean the trucks start to slip and slide on the roads, being out on your own in the night with no help can be frightening.
When talking to one of the truck drivers, Steve Flanagan, 43, said “We’ll get a phone call around 2.30am telling us what time we will be out. If its snow, you’re looking to be out all night.”
“I’m a grounds man for large parts of the year and all other members of the council come together to help grit the roads.”
“The council are very grateful for our efforts”
Comparing this years’ service to the one in 2010, preparations have changed dramatically.
Paul Dunne, highway’s manager said “There is more communication between the public and the council this year
“Social media has meant people can be updated constantly and quickly about what locations have been covered.
“In 2010, people didn’t know where had been gritted and where had been untouched, that has changed this year.”
For more information on weather and road conditions this year, please visit Lancashire Council.
Do you have problems near where you live with icy roads? What are the worst spots in and around Preston? Let us know in the comments below