Posted: Thu 30th Nov 2023

Flintshire highways teams gear up for extended cold spell

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Nov 30th, 2023

Flintshire is preparing for an extended spell of cold weather, with the Council’s Highways team ramping up efforts.

Gritting operations will cover over 400 miles of Flintshire roads, as temperatures continue to drop.

The gritting fleet has 12 frontline and two spare vehicles. They are all stored at the Alltami Depot and are supported by three trailer-type gritters, operated by contractors when needed.

During snowfall, all these vehicles will be equipped with snow or slush ploughs, selected based on the type of snow being cleared.

The vehicles have advanced GPS tracking systems. These systems provide real-time, web-based tracking.

This enables Duty Officers to make informed operational decisions based on live, precise data about each vehicle’s location and activities.

Flintshire County Council’s Winter Maintenance Policy sorts roads into three levels for gritting and snow clearing.

Priority 1 routes constitute 45% of the county’s highways network. When ice is forecast, Priority 1 routes will be pre-salted before the onset of frost. If severe conditions like snow or ice continue, resources will stay on Priority 1 routes.

Priority 2 routes include roads on housing estates, access routes between smaller rural communities, and other main distributor routes. These roads will be treated for ice and snow following the treatment of Priority 1 routes. This is based on weather conditions, available resources, and the Duty Officer’s decision.

Priority 3 routes include all other roads in the county. They are treated based on the availability of resources, following the treatment of Priority 1 and 2 routes. In snow conditions, all available resources are used to clear Priority 2 and Priority 3 routes, after dealing with Priority 1 routes.

The Council also uses 38 agricultural snow ploughing contractors to clear highways during snow conditions. Each has a dedicated route for efficiency.

During the winter months, weather forecasts provided by MetDesk are analysed three times a day.

There are also ice prediction sensors on the A55 at Brynford and the A541 at Hendre.

Information from these sources helps guide the Duty Officers’ decisions on gritting and other actions.

Last year, Flintshire gritters covered over 40,000 miles of roads, using 7,000 tonnes of grit salt.

Chief officer for Streetscene and Transportation, Katie Wilby, said: “Winter service operations play a fundamental role in ensuring that highway networks are safe and available during adverse weather conditions from around October through to April each year.”

“During periods of severe weather, such as snow and ice, we grit and clear snow from in excess of 414 miles of Priority 1 roads across Flintshire. Priority 1 roads, which carry substantial volumes of traffic in line with our Winter Maintenance policy, account for 45% of Flintshire’s total county road network.”’

“All Priority 1 routes will be subject to precautionary gritting operations throughout the winter period with a decision taken following receipt of the daily forecast from our weather forecasting provider. The level of actions will be dictated by the available resources and the weather forecast outlook.”

“Other roads can be classed as ‘Priority 2’ routes, which are made up from the unclassified roads that form main distributor routes in both the urban and rural areas.”

“These could be housing estate roads or access routes between smaller rural communities and will only be treated if severe weather conditions persist and the Priority 1 routes have been completed.”

By Emily Ash – Local Democracy Reporter & Deeside.com 

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