Highways winter service resumes

Dorset Highways will once again be helping to keep you moving this winter, with its gritting crews on-call from the start of this month.

In preparation for the colder weather, 12,700tonnes of rock salt is in stock across the five highway depots and the gritters have been serviced and calibrated to ensure they are ready for action.

There are 22 main gritting routes treated by the Highways Service when road surface temperatures are predicted to drop below one degree. These roads are used by the majority of the travelling public – covering 684-miles and accounting for around 28 per cent of the Dorset Council road network.

In snow conditions, gritters will concentrate solely on priority north/south and east/west routes – 22 sections of road – to keep them clear of snow before clearing the remaining gritting network. When resources allow, community link roads will then be cleared.

Last winter, gritters were sent out on 69 days and carried out 98 runs in total across the primary gritting network and community link roads – with crews carrying multiple runs on the coldest days. Over 5,900tonnes of rock salt was used to prevent roads from freezing.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “Our Highways operatives are on-call throughout the winter, with 24 drivers available for each12-hour period, and make a real difference in keeping commuters, deliveries and vital services safely on the road.

“Going out whenever the road surface temperature looks set to go below one degree, day or night, our gritting crews may go unseen, but they are very much appreciated.

“If you find yourself behind a gritting vehicle please be patient and be aware that the salt only becomes ‘active’ after it has been worked into a solution by tyres travelling over it – please take care on freshly gritted roads and drive to the conditions this winter.”

Dorset Council’s precautionary gritting network includes all A, B and well-used C class roads as well as:

  • links to hospitals, large industrial estates, transport interchanges, emergency services (including manned Coastguard and RNLI) stations and identified critical infrastructure
  • routes to all urban schools with more than 500 pupils and rural schools with more than 350 pupils
  • primary bus routes with a substantial frequency
  • main routes through towns and villages with populations of more than 750
  • Dorset Highways also carries out gritting for National Highways on the A35 between Bere Regis and Charmouth. This is carried out as instructed by National Highways, based on its own forecasting system provider.

Updates on gritting action and more information about the service is available online.