Ready, steady, grit! Council gears up for winter weather
With colder weather on the way, the council is ready to keep people on the move with its winter plan for key routes across the district.
Issued on: 26 October 2016
From Monday 31 October the Council monitors the weather and will grit roads whenever road temperatures are forecast to fall below zero with a hoar frost.
Primary routes, which account for 39% of the districts almost 800 miles of road, will be gritted whenever a frost or ice is forecast. These routes include all A and B roads and some strategically important C roads, will be gritted when a frost or ice is forecast. Secondary routes, which make up 22% of the highway network, will be gritted once frosty or icy conditions have been experienced for at least 72 hours.
This winter, around 20 miles of highway primary routes will become secondary routes following a decision by Full Council to reduce the gritted network as part of a wider programme of savings.
Another change to the winter service is the transfer of responsibility of some salt bins to town and parish councils. West Berkshire Council will no longer be providing its 234 salt bins for the highways network but town and parish councils have agreed to adopt 213 of them and will maintain them in future.
Cllr Jeanette Clifford, West Berkshire's Executive Member for Highways and Transport said, "Our winter service plan is ready to go and we will be working hard to ensure residents will be able to continue going about their daily lives with as little disruption to the roads as possible. Following the decision made by Council earlier this year around 20 miles of roads will no longer qualify for precautionary gritting. However, we have tried our best to maintain a connected network by making sure transport hubs, bus routes, hospitals, GP surgeries and larger schools remain accessible.
"While we treat key routes some roads will not be treated and drivers should be prepared and allow more time for their journey and take extra care when travelling during cold weather."
Decisions about when to grit roads are triggered by cold and other weather alerts from the MeteoGroup and flood alerts from the Environment Agency. West Berkshire Council's contractor, VolkerHighways, have 1,000 tonnes of salt stockpiled at the Council's Chieveley depot for the winter with plans in place to replenish this stock as required throughout the season.
However, should the need arise the Council have access to 1,500 tonnes of additional salt which is stored off site. When gritting does take place it is usually done either after the evening rush hour or before the morning rush hour in order to minimise disruption on the roads.
A snow clearance plan is also in place which aims to keep almost half (48.5%) of the highway network available when it snows with priority given to bus routes and access routes to schools and GP surgeries.
Information about routes which have been gritted is provided in real time on the West Berkshire Council website and will begin once the winter weather plan is instigated. You can also read our Winter Service Plan - which includes maps of Primary and Secondary routes.
You can also find advice on staying safe this winter including while you travel.