Devon prepares for winter gritting

Joseph Bulmer

WINTER gritting routes in Devon have been reviewed by Devon County Council to ensure the county is better prepared for winter than ever before.

Following the severe weather of the last three winters, routes linking to all secondary schools and bus and railway stations in the county have now been added to the main salting routes.

Devon County Council is also providing local Snow Warden volunteers with up to five tonnes of salt to use on their local public roads and footpaths, to ensure additional support for communities. Around 100 towns and parishes have so far expressed an interest in being part of the voluntary scheme.

Treating routes leading to all secondary schools and public transport stations has added an extra 23 miles (37km) to the primary precautionary salting network. However, there is a net reduction of 57 miles (90km) to the main salting routes as around 80 miles (128km) of minor roads to smaller communities will now be placed on the secondary salting network which is treated less often, but is salted when more severe winter weather is expected. All A and B roads will still be treated as part the primary network which now measures 1,645 miles (2,647km), covered by 37 routes instead of the previous 48.

In total, the combined primary and secondary salting routes will cover more miles of the county’s highway network than in any previous winter – treating around 2,023 miles (3,256km). The routes have been reviewed to ensure that they meet the winter service criteria approved by Cabinet last September.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: “Our review of gritting routes is ensuring that the most critical roads in Devon, such as those which link to secondary schools and public transport stations, are on the main salting network. It’s impossible for Devon County Council to treat its entire highway network, but targeting the busiest routes will help us keep Devon moving as much as possible throughout the winter.

“We are also working more closely with communities through the snow warden scheme, of which I am one, which can help us provide an additional level of service during winter. While we can keep the main routes as clear as possible there’s a limit to what we can achieve at a very local level, which is where the snow wardens can use their local knowledge, particularly during prolonged cold spells.”

No matter how prepared for winter you are it is always worth heeding the following advice:

* Avoid overnight travel unless absolutely essential as roads will always be more hazardous at night with less traffic and colder temperatures;

* Never assume a road has been salted. Remember that showers or rain will wash salt off roads leaving them prone to ice and, in extreme cold, even salting will not stop ice from forming;

* Allow additional time for your journey and reduce your speed;

* Drive with care and according to the conditions;

* If you have vulnerable or elderly neighbours, think about how they could possibly be helped through the cold spell;

* Listen to local radio for updates on current weather conditions.

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