Highways teams set out at 3am on Sunday morning, ahead of predicted snowfall, to ensure the main roads had a layer of salt, and then continued salting the roads through the day. The County Council has an arrangement with around 135 farmers provided with snow ploughs to help clear routes in rural areas.
Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council, said: “Our highways teams are out 24/7 doing all they can to keep Hampshire’s roads clear and safe. As well as the main roads, the teams are also treating roads to COVID vaccination and testing centres and we have additional gangs hand salting the entrances and footway areas at these sites. Winter teams will also treat Hampshire’s community routes before tomorrow morning, ensuring roads to smaller schools and health centres are passable.
“We have good stocks of salt, with more deliveries scheduled, and extra highways crews ready on standby to take over from gangs who have been working through the night.
Each salt run takes approximately three to four hours, and, once the first run was complete, teams return to their depots to re-load, ready for the next run.
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.
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 or yellow salt bins across Hampshire being filled for community use. Salt from these bins is 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 and pavements. Remember that one tablespoon of salt (20 grams) is sufficient to treat one square metre of road or pavement surface.
With the weather forecast indicating a very cold few days ahead of us with ice and frost, I would ask anyone making an essential journey or taking a walk to take extra care. The salt on the roads activates with the motion of vehicle tyres, so, with less traffic on the roads at the moment due to the national restrictions, and on a Sunday, this may take longer in some places.
“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.”