As some headlines predict the coldest winter in 30 years set to hit the north west this year, a new team of heroes will be out in force, keeping Lancashire’s roads safe.Advertisement
Basil Salty, Freddie Frostoff, Holly Chilloughby and Albert Ice-stein are the latest recruits to Lancashire highway’s 45-strong fleet of gritters.
They will be joined by Penelope Gritstop, Cool Gritania and Grittersaurus on their mission to keep Lancashire moving in the face of whatever severe weather comes their way.
The gritters are revving up to make their debut appearances on Lancashire’s roads after being named by the public in Spring.
Read more: Gritters out as first frost appears in Preston
The seven gritters will join more seasoned salters such as True Grit, Captain Snow and Margrit, which were named in past years’ competitions.
They will be driven and directed by the 160-strong workforce who form the county’s winter service rota, keeping a close eye on the forecasts, and working shifts around the clock if necessary to keep the gritters going throughout prolonged severe weather.
Everyone who works on winter also has a day job within highways, though winter duties are prioritised if necessary with appropriate rest periods.
Read more: Penwortham bypass to open in December – earlier than expected
The highways team have been busy over recent weeks, topping up salt stocks at the county’s seven operational depots, servicing gritters, ploughs, snow-blowers and tractors, and restocking the county’s 2,600 grit bins and roadside salt piles.
The council aims to treat the 1,500 miles of the county council’s priority road network, within around four hours whenever a freeze is forecast.
A further network of second most important roads are also treated during continuous ice or snow to improve access to the main routes, but these can only be treated once the priority roads are clear. No council treats every road as this simply isn’t practical.
County Councillor Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We’re as ready as we can be for winter, with around 29,000 tonnes of salt in stock, which will be topped up when needed throughout the season.
“As well as our frontline gritters, we also have 13 vehicles in reserve and a number of other vehicles such as tractors and snow-blowers which can come in handy on some of the most exposed routes.
“We’re also able to call on farmers and agricultural contractors if necessary, to clear snow on rural roads and keep links to villages open if our resources are stretched.
“However I’d also ask that everyone takes responsibility to make sure they are prepared for winter as, while we always do our best, there are limitations to the service we can provide.
“Always drive according to the conditions as they can vary widely over even a short journey, particularly on untreated routes. Even roads which have been gritted can be icy, most often early in the morning before the movement of traffic has activated the salt by mixing it with the ice.
“It’s always useful to have a snow shovel, torch, batteries and a first aid kit handy, and salt to treat paths around your home if you’re concerned about them becoming slippy.
“Please also look after yourself, and check on any friends and relatives who may be vulnerable, making sure they are keeping warm, have some company, and any medication they need if they can’t get out and about.”
To find out more about gritting routes, and advice on clearing snow, travelling safely, and keeping well, visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/winter. Follow LCC Highways on Twitter for news and updates, or visit Facebook .
What do you think of the new additions to the fleet? Let us know in the comments section.