Winter service operations
Gritting (precautionary salting)
We have a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by winter hazards such as frost, snow and ice.
‘Gritting’ is the precautionary salting of a highway network to prevent the formation of winter hazards.
How salt works
When salt is driven or walked over, this helps to dissolve the salt into a solution that lowers the freezing point of water. This is why treated motorways and other highways with high amounts of traffic will clear much more quickly than streets in residential areas where there is less traffic.
As salt becomes ineffective by -8c it is critical to treat a surface before winter hazards begin to form.
We retain one of the largest winter service operations with around 43% of our network, (1,700 miles) receiving precautionary salting treatment when forecasted conditions indicate this is necessary.
In order to keep the road network moving in Staffordshire our winter service involves:
- Around 40 gritters and snow ploughs
- Salt bins/piles
- Approximately 20,000 tonnes of salt
- Ice prediction weather stations across the county
Salt bins and salt piles
We know that many communities can become isolated during prolonged periods of snow and ice and in addition to our treated network we have nearly 3,000 salt bins/piles where criteria have been met for these to be provided. The restocking of these is completed by the same crews that undertake other highway maintenance activities such as gulley emptying or pothole repairs etc.
Salt bins/piles can be provided on routes that do not form part of the treated network. Locations which qualify have been risk assessed against a set of criteria that includes but is not limited to:
- steep gradients
- severe bends
- junctions onto major routes
Precautionary salting routes
You can see the treatment network and the location of our grit bins using our interactive gritting route map.
For precautionary salting, the treated network is split into a two-tier hierarchy made up of a primary treatment network and an extended treatment network.
Primary treatment network
It would be impossible to provide precautionary treatments across the entire road network and our priority is to firstly keep major transport and freight links clear such as A and B roads and to target routes which carry high volumes of traffic.
Extended treatment network
The extended treatment network will only be treated when prolonged freezing and/or snow conditions are expected; it will not be treated in marginal weather conditions when such extended periods of ice and snow are not expected.