Wirral Council’s highways team are gearing up for another restless night as widespread wintry weather is set to continue this afternoon, evening and overnight.
Gritting of the ten main treatment routes, plus the routes carried out by the mini-gritters, has already started ahead of today’s rush-hour in an effort to minimise the impact of the forecast freezing road surface temperatures.
They will then remain on standby for further deployment throughout the night, as they have been ever since the council’s winter service arrangements kicked in at the beginning of November and it is very likely they will be required to undertake a further treatment of the network in the early hours of Thursday morning. Road surface temperatures are expected to fall to - 5 overnight and any lying water on road surfaces will freeze. Air temperatures are also expected to fall to minus - 3.
This activity comes after last night’s operations which, for the second week running, saw crews carry out three separate gritting rounds in the space of 18 hours to try and ensure the borough’s main roads and key routes were as safe as possible to drive on.
Cllr Stuart Whittingham, Wirral Council’s Cabinet member for Highways and Transportation, said: “As they did last Tuesday, the crews collectively put down around 300 tonnes of rock salt on Wirral’s main roads over the three rounds of gritting yesterday, last night and this morning, covering nearly 900 miles of carriageway.
“It was another phenomenal effort on their behalf, battling to minimise the effects of the elements so that people can use the roads as safely as possible. They will be out again today, and probably overnight again, due to the ongoing forecast of widespread ice or snow. They deserve the utmost praise for their efforts and commitment.”
Cllr Whittingham added: “Some of the criticism I have read has been way off the mark and some of the abuse directed towards staff completely out of order. People need to try to understand that though the rock salt that our crews spread on our roads can be very effective in a range of circumstances, it is not an instant remedy that will make ice and snow simply disappear.”
Here are some salt facts to help people understand how, why and when it can be effectively used in adverse weather conditions:-
- Traffic needs to drive over a gritted road in order to grind the salt and activate it. Salt alone does not melt snow and ice. This is why drivers out early in the morning often complain that roads have not been treated; they have, it is just that not enough cars have driven over it to maximise its effectiveness.
- After we’ve gritted, further snow may subsequently fall on top of the road surface. This covers the salt and makes it look like we haven't gritted. Unless there is enough traffic driving over it, it will be ineffective and the road will have to be retreated. Salt alone does not melt snow and ice.
- Local authorities make their decision to grit using a combination of air and road surface temperature measurements. Sometimes, even if the air temperature is below freezing, roads can keep a small amount of heat, meaning that ice won't form on them. Sometimes there isn't enough moisture in the air to form ice, even if it's below freezing.
- Even if air temperature rises, it can take a little time for road surface temperatures to rise too. Road surface temperatures can remain a few degrees below air temperature, and as a result, moisture on the road can freeze. So we may still grit even if air temperature is above freezing.
- Sometimes you’ll see gritters on the road but not spreading. This may be because they are travelling to another location to start their round. It may also be the case that the gritter has used up its salt, and is returning to the depot to refill.
Cllr Whittingham added: “The bottom line is that we cannot control the weather. We can try to minimise its impact as best we can – which is exactly what our highways teams do – but other factors can make a difference too.
“Being patient and driving sensibly according to the conditions of the road is equally as important as the work that we do to try and keep roads clear and safe.”
Read full article:-
Published by Wirral Council News on Wed, 30 Jan 2019 www.wirral.gov.uk