Thursday, 23 December 2010

Gritting Teams Battle Extreme Cold





By Ben Aulakh

Gritting teams from Gloucestershire County Council have been fighting extreme cold to keep the county's roads open for business.

Crews were out throughout the day on Tuesday, treating the roads and ploughing to remove snow, with up to 12 inches having fallen in some parts of the county.

To ensure roads were treated again before temperatures dropped overnight, a second team – brought in during the early evening – made a complete grit run of all A and B roads in the central area of the county.

However when temperatures plummet below minus 7 grit become less effective; below minus 10 grit has no effect at all; on some night this week the county saw averages temperatures of around minus 10, with some areas dropping to as low as  minus 17.

This has led to widespread ice forming on the roads with particular problems in urban areas of Cheltenham and Gloucester.

Cllr Stan Waddington, cabinet member for environment, said: “I completely understand people's frustrations, but when we're seeing temperatures as low as -17 no amount of gritting will make any difference.

“Unfortunately, grit does not work when it's this cold and there is simply nothing we can do about that.”

The council already has fleets out around the county, but with temperatures likely to fall to below -7 again, ice is likely to remain on the roads.

Cllr Waddington added, “We will continue to do all we can to keep the roads moving, but I am afraid that there are no easy solutions here.

“I would advise people to make essential journeys only and to take extreme care if they have to go out in the car and check the forecast before leaving.”

Motorists are being advised to stay off the roads if possible, but if you do have to drive, do so with extreme caution.

Inspector Keith Fagan, Gloucestershire Police said, “Due to the current adverse weather conditions we are continuing to advise drivers not to make their journey unless it is absolutely necessary.

"If you must travel then the first thing I would always recommend is that you allow plenty of time to complete your journey; trying to reach a destination within a tight time-scale, especially in poor weather conditions, increases stress and the potential for an incident.”

Police are also advising motorists to make sure that they clear all the snow, ice and misting from their windscreen and other windows before starting to drive.

While the council will do all it can to keep roads free of ice, residents are being urged to do their bit too by helping to clear pavements.

Last year people were worried about liability issues after clearing ice and snow themselves.

However new guidance from the government on gritting your own driveways and pavements is now available on www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/winter.


Photograph from Rockman on www.flickr.com.

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