Gritters on standby to keep traffic on the move
6:40pm Friday 6th December 2013 in North West
AS LOVELY as crisp winter days are, they bring with them a treacherous danger many people overlook.
Ice causes problems for everyone, whether they drive, use public transport or walk to get about, and preventing gridlock takes a huge amount of co-ordination.
Wigan Council has a fleet of gritters, mechanical excavators and tractors on standby 24 hours a day to tackle the invisible foe.
Dependent on information from nearby weather stations which can change at a moment’s notice, the council’s operational manager Wayne Reid and technical supervisor Chris Dunn have to make the call if they believe the temperature will drop below zero.
Wayne said: “The gritters normally head out at about half six so they avoid the traffic but still get around before the temperature drops.
“Sometimes the forecast can change at 5pm so that is why we have the team on standby. There is no point in dropping grit on a road that is gridlocked because it won’t do anything. We need the network to be moving so the grit can be spread properly.”
Ten gritters will head out on a normal night filled with some of the 4,500 tonnes of grit that fill a salt barn.
Wayne and Chris also have to decide how much salt the gritters are to spread – the heavier they spread, the more trips have to be made back to refill, but not enough and the roads will be slippery and dangerous.
The council has 11 new multi-purpose gritting vehicles, complete with snowploughs, and including smaller gritters designed to deal with the twists and turns of Leigh town centre.
Wayne said: “There are areas that will get colder than others and there are thermal maps that show us these areas.
“Rural areas that are exposed with fields either side seem to get the coldest.”
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