We are ready – that’s the message from the gritting teams hoping to keep Sheffield moving this winter.
Sheffild Council contractor Amey said it had more than 15,000 tonnes of salt in stock, ready to be used by its fleet of 19 gritters to help keep more than 130 miles of the city’s busiest roads clear if wintry conditions hit.
Melissa Wise, Amey’s project director, said although its fleet had not taken to the roads just yet, that situation could change with colder conditions expected this weekend.
She said: “We can never say never but we are as ready as we can be. All of the drivers are trained, they’ve all had refereshers of the routes and we've got all the grit.all of our grit has been delivered.
“In total we have got more than 35 trained drivers on the contract but obviously they don’t work all at the same time. They are now all on call and will be through until the end of April.”
Ms Wise said Amey, who are responsible for the city’s highways as part of the Streets Ahead contract with Sheffield Council, had more around 2,000 grit bins across the city.
She added: “We would certainly like assistance from the community in terms of clearing the footway in front of their property and checking on elderly neighbours.
“We’ve been doing lots of practice runs to check timings for when we do have to go out.”
Highways England, which is responsibly for motorways and major A roads, has a fleet more than 500 vehicles ready to take to the streets when winter does its worst.
The authority has more than 260 weather stations across the country, which gather data that is then used to decide when to grit the thousands of miles of motorways and A roads.
Paul Ferlong, Highways England’s national winter and severe weather team leader, said: “Whether people are heading to friends and family or commuting to work, we care about people journeys and during any severe weather our teams will be working around the clock to keep traffic moving.
“Safety is our priority and we’re asking drivers to make sure they and their vehicles are also prepared for any eventuality. Before you set out, check your vehicle, the road conditions and the weather forecast.
“If conditions are poor, and journeys are not essential, consider waiting until the weather gets better – this should improve journeys, and give our gritters a chance to treat the roads.”
Mr Furlong urged motorists to follow this advice:
- In snow and ice: Drivers should stick to the main roads where they can and only travel if necessary. Drivers are also encouraged to make sure they have a winter kit in their vehicle, including an ice scraper and de-icer, warm clothes and blankets and sunglasses to cope with the low winter sun.
- In high winds: Drivers should slow down and avoid using exposed sections of road if possible. Lorries, caravans and motorbikes are at particular risk.
- In heavy rain: Drivers should keep well back from the vehicle in front, gradually ease off the accelerator if the steering becomes unresponsive, and slow down if the rain and spray from vehicles makes it difficult to see and be seen.
- In fog: Drivers should switch on their fog lights and not use lights on full beam as the fog will reflect the light back. If drivers really cannot see, they should consider stopping until it is safe to continue.