From October through to April, highways teams are on standby 24 hours a day, seven days a week whenever freezing road surfaces are forecast.
Local weather forecasts and roadside weather sensors help highways teams make decisions about the best time to salt the roads, where to salt and how much salt to use. Road surface and air temperatures, wind speed and direction, rainfall, and ice formation are all important factors in putting the winter fleet to work. We treat roads to try to stop ice forming, so before temperatures drop to freezing.
Did you know?
Weather bands Temperatures and conditions can vary significantly in different parts of Hampshire, so the county is divided into weather bands: north, central and coastal.
Salt routes There are around 5,300 miles of road in Hampshire and they are salted on a priority basis. ‘Priority One’ routes carry the majority of Hampshire’s traffic and include A roads, some B roads, major bus routes, roads to hospitals and other key emergency hubs, large schools and colleges, areas of high traffic concentration and public transport interchanges. There are 39 ‘Priority One’ salting routes across the three weather bands in Hampshire, each taking around three and half hours to complete.
During prolonged, severe weather, ‘Priority Two’ routes, which include remaining B roads and single access roads to villages, may also be treated.
Winter fleet Hampshire’s winter fleet has 45 vehicles to salt the roads, and each is fitted with a snow plough. Additionally, around 120 farmers and other contractors are on standby with snow ploughs.
Salt bins We’ve supplied more than 3,000 salt bins to communities throughout Hampshire and they are currently being re-filled. Communities have been making good use of these in previous winters, going out of their way to help make pavements and smaller access roads less icy for others, particularly in areas not covered by the main salting routes.
All it takes is about one tablespoon of salt (20 grams) to treat one square metre of road or pavement surface. So, used sparingly, a full salt bin should last through the worst of a severe winter.
Salt barns Around 25,000 tonnes of salt are stocked ready for the winter in barns strategically placed across Hampshire at Hook, Havant, Bishops Waltham, Weyhill, Totton, Micheldever, Dummer and Petersfield. Salt is delivered throughout the year to ensure each barn is at full capacity at the start of the winter, and stocks are topped up when needed.
Salt is less effective if road surface temperatures plummet to less than -5̊C, so never assume a road is safe because it has been salted.
Although often referred to as ‘gritting’, the salt we use does not provide friction on the road. It lowers the freezing point of moisture on the road surface to prevent ice forming. Once spread, the salt relies on the action of tyre vehicles to work it into the road surface and a salted road will appear ‘black’.
We all need to adapt the way we drive in winter when the conditions can make driving more hazardous – RoSPA has some helpful winter driving tips.
You can find out more about priority routes and where to find your nearest salt bin on the map.
Follow our ‘gritter twitter’ @hantsconnect to find out when and where the salting lorries are going out throughout winter.