North Yorkshire’s highways gritting teams are geared up for the challenge of the coming winter on the county’s 5,800 miles of roads.
The £7m winter maintenance budget will see more than half of the roads gritted on one of England’s largest and, in places, most remote networks. The fleet of 86 gritters will be supported by 107 farm contractors, five road snowblowers and seven footpath snowblowers.
Salt stocks in the council’s barns are at capacity at 55,000 tons and, in addition, there are 8,000 grit heaps and bins. Gritters are on call 24 hours a day. Last year, 6,287 routes were treated.
Star of the gritter fleet this year will be the 18-tonne rainbow vehicle bedecked in the colours of the UCI and sporting the slogan ‘North Yorkshire Salt of the Earth’ that featured in the publicity caravan at last month’s UCI Road World Championships.
The rainbow gritter, sponsored by the county council’s highway maintenance contractor, Ringway, provided a striking addition to the cavalcade that made its way through many North Yorkshire communities ahead of the elite races during the final weekend of the championships
The gritter will continue to provide a splash of colour during the coming winter as it treats some of the county’s most rural routes in the Upper Dales; a legacy of the World Championships and a tribute to the gritty resilience of the Upper Dales communities that led an inspiring recovery from the summer’s devastating floods.
Due to the varied nature of North Yorkshire’s road network, the county employs different kinds of gritters to offer the widest range of options for timely treatment. Alongside four-wheel-drive vehicles, which offer the manoeuvrability needed for the county’s many minor roads and make up the majority of the fleet, there are 16 six-wheel-drive gritters that offer 50 per cent more salt capacity and three small 7.5-tonne gritters for locations other gritters cannot reach due to weight or size restrictions.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “Coping with severe winter weather on such an extensive road network is a complex operation, but it’s a top priority for us to keep the county on the move. That’s why we place the highest priority on our winter maintenance budget. This is a service that matters to everyone who lives and works in the county.
“We grit whenever necessary to keep our roads open. Our first priority is the major routes that connect or pass through the county’s towns. We clear these before moving on to our second level of priority routes, those that give access to smaller communities.
“While we do all we can to help traffic to keep moving during winter weather, it is important for drivers to drive with caution and to consider whether their journey is necessary.”
The County Council uses the latest weather forecasting technology in planning its gritting operations. This includes ice prediction weather stations, a 24-hour weather forecast and road temperature sensor data.
Find further information, including road cameras, maps and a series of videos in which those involved in gritting the county’s roads explain the operation.
Gritting operations updates are posted on the council’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. Follow @northyorkscc or #nygrit and on Facebook.