Gritters will be out on the roads in Flintshire this week – don’t worry there’s no snow forecast
You may spot gritters on the roads of Flintshire this week, but don’t worry, there is no snow forecast.
Flintshire County Council is getting ready for winter. Its fleet of gritters is doing dry-runs this week to make sure that drivers are ready for the cold weather ahead.
The gritting fleet has 12 frontline and two spare vehicles. They are all kept at the Alltami Depot. They are helped by three trailer-type gritters run by contractors when needed.
During snow, all these vehicles will have snow or slush ploughs, chosen for the type of snow being cleared.
The vehicles have advanced GPS tracking systems. These systems give real-time, web-based tracking. This lets Duty Officers make smart operational choices based on live, exact data about each vehicle’s place and activities.
Barry Wilkinson, the Highways Network Manager, told councillors that last year the gritters covered 70,000 kilometres of Flintshire’s roads using 7,000 tonnes of grit salt.
He said that call-outs were going up year-on-year. But, the council has actively hired and trained drivers over the summer. All equipment is in good shape and calibrated.
Flintshire Council has 9,000 tonnes of a special kind of rocksalt known as Safecote in the county. It is ready to be sent out as winter conditions dictate. Next to this, Safethaw will be used for areas with a lot of foot traffic, making sure public safety all through the winter season.
Flintshire County Council’s Winter Maintenance Policy sorts roads into three levels for gritting and snow clearing.
Priority 1 routes make up 45% of the county’s highways network. They include big roads, main bus routes, and main roads to schools and industrial areas.
When ice is forecasted, Priority 1 routes will be pre-salted before the start 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 after Priority 1 routes have been dealt with. This is based on weather conditions, available resources, and the Duty Officer’s choice.
Priority 3 routes include all other roads in the county. They are treated based on resource availability after looking after 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.
The new 20mph speed limit in Wales should not affect winter gritting in Flintshire, council officers have said.
During a meeting earlier this month, Shotton East and Higher Cllr David Evans (Lab) asked whether Wales’ reduction in the default speed limit in urban areas from 30 miles-per-hour to 20mph would impact gritting.
Officers confirmed that during the Buckley and Mynydd Isa trial period of the new speed limit, the gritting round only took eight minutes longer to carry out.
They added that as 70 per cent of the route was housing estates gritters could not go at 20mph anyway due to parked vehicles and speed bumps.
Chief officer for Streetscene Katie Wilby said: “We’re doing the modelling work at the moment.
“If you look at other local authorities elsewhere in the country they are seeing there will be an impact and they will require an additional gritter.
“They are very large cities though, so I don’t think there is going to be any impact on Flintshire because we’re not a city. We haven’t got as many roads that are going to be 20mph as Cardiff and Swansea.”
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