Hampshire Highways’ winter teams have been out on their first runs of the season, salting the county’s priority routes as road surface temperatures drop below zero.
Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council, said: “Cold nights arrived this year almost at the same time as the start of a second period of national restrictions to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. While some people are able to work from home, there are still many people travelling to work places such as hospitals, supermarkets and construction sites as well as young people attending schools and college, so our winter highways teams have been out overnight this week to salt the roads ahead of icy conditions.”
Hampshire’s main roads are always treated first. These ‘Priority one’ routes carry the majority of Hampshire’s traffic - covering A roads, some B roads, roads to hospitals and other key emergency hubs, large schools and colleges and major bus routes. This year, access roads to Covid testing sites across the county have been added to the Priority one network. During periods of prolonged severe weather, Priority two’ routes, which include remaining B roads and single access roads to villages, may also be treated.
The winter fleet is on 24-hour standby, seven days a week, from 1 October right through until the end of April, to deal with wintery conditions. Highways teams use detailed Hampshire-specific weather forecasts through the winter in combination with real time information from a network of electronic roadside weather stations to make decisions about the best time to salt the roads, where to salt and how much salt to use.
Forecast road surface and air temperatures, wind speed and direction, rainfall, and ice formation are all important factors in putting the winter fleet to work. Roads are treated with salt before temperatures drop to freezing to try to stop frost and ice forming. Temperatures and conditions can vary significantly even within one county like Hampshire, so winter teams look at a number of distinct weather bands to help decide when and where to put the winter fleet to work.
Hampshire Highways’ dedicated fleet of 43 winter vehicles are fitted with the latest technology to ensure salting is accurate and efficient, including full GPS guidance and automatic salt delivery. The vehicles also have Euro VI efficient engines and dedicated snow ploughs.
There are thousands of blue salt bins across Hampshire being filled for community use. Salt from these bins are for use on public roads and pavements, and can be particularly useful to ‘join up’ salting from the main road, carried out by Hampshire County Council salting vehicles, to smaller access roads or on the pavements. One tablespoon of salt (20 grams) is sufficient to treat one square metre of road or pavement surface. Salt bins have also been placed at the test sites.
Councillor Humby explained: “If footways are icy, everyone can help in their neighbourhoods by using the salt bins. Spreading a small amount of salt from the community salt bins on the pavements or smaller access roads not covered by the highways crews can make a big impact on frozen and icy surfaces.”
Follow our ‘gritter twitter’ @hantshighways to find out when and where the salting lorries are going out, throughout winter.
Maps of priority routes and community salt bins can be found here
Find out more about Hampshire’s winter service here