Gritters ready to deal with sub-zero snap

Twenty-five gritter lorries have been on duty nightly to deal with the ongoing cold snap.

By Neil Shefferd
Monday, 19th January 2015, 4:43 pm
One of Bucks County Council's gritters in action overnight
One of Bucks County Council's gritters in action overnight

Bucks County Council’s 50 drivers are on 24-hour alert with access to thousands of tonnes of salt to spread on the county’s 1,405 kms worth A and B roads.

Although the drivers are ready to respond at any time to weather forecasts received five times a day from the Met Office, they normally salt the roads in the evening and early morning.

During the weekend the gritters were out daily and tonight (Monday), with road temperatures forecast to fall to minus six degrees, they will be salt-spreading primary routes from 6pm as well as planning for snow forecast tomorrow night (Tuesday).

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The last big ‘spread’ was over Christmas, when the county experienced its first real icy snap of the winter.

Gritters treated the roads seven times with around 500 tonnes of salt, and drivers were out as early as 4am.

During this period, the 50 gritter drivers - two for each route and both on call to provide 24-hour cover - stuck to a ‘no-drinking or excessive partying’ practice.

County council cabinet member for transport Ruth Vigor-Hedderly said: “I know this will have been a bit of a sacrifice for them and I take my hat off to them for their commitment.

“But we need them to be able to drive their routes at short notice, and to be within a reasonable distance of their depot.

“They’re the advance party that works in cold and dark conditions to spread the salt that helps to keep the rest of us safe.”

When not gritting, the team form the road crews that fill potholes, clear drains and gullies, and carry out minor repairs then once road temperatures start to fall, they return to the depots and load up gritter lorries to take to their routes with each run taking about two and a half hours.

Those who aren’t salt-spreading at night will be scouting for street light faults, resurfacing roads and responding to emergencies, such as trees felled by strong winds.

Ms Vigor-Hedderly said: “Our crews work very hard right through the season and I’m sure all our residents would join me in expressing gratitude to them for a job well done. Give them a wave if you see them!”