Council sends out gritters and warns drivers to stay safe
Last updated: 28/11/2012
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With many of Cornwall’s roads still suffering the aftermath of
last weekend’s floods, the dramatic drop in temperature which has
been forecast for this week means that much of the surface water
could now turn to ice.
Staff from CORMAC Solutions Ltd, the Council’s highways service
provider, are carrying out precautionary salting across Cornwall
this evening in accordance with the authority’s winter service
plan. However the large amount of surface water and run off
from fields means there is a possibility that in some places the
salt could wash off and possibly turn to ice. This means
there is the potential for icy patches even on treated roads.
The Council is calling on members of the public to make sure
that they drive according to the road and weather conditions.
The Council is responsible for over 7,520 kilometres (4,530
miles) of roads – one of the largest road networks in the country -
ranging from principal roads to narrow country lanes.
The authority carries out precautionary salting on 25 routes
covering around 1,400 km ( 875 miles) of the road network,
including the most heavily trafficked A and B roads in
Cornwall which, between them, are responsible for around 85% of
traffic movements. CORMAC Solutions Ltd also treats the roads
to key sites such as hospitals, minor injury units, ambulance and
fire stations, bus stations and secondary schools.
This year, following consultation with key partners, CORMAC are
also treating the routes to, and the circulatory system within
Liskeard Railway Station, St Austell railway and Bus Station, St
Ives Malakof bus station and Penzance Bus Station. It
is also treating the roads to a further 10 health or community
centres – Callington, Camborne, Falmouth, Gunnislake, Helston,
Mullion, Saltash, St Keverne, Tintagel and Truro – adding a further
1,140 metres to the salting network.
The A30 from the boundary with Devon to Penzance and the A38,
which are the main trunk roads through Cornwall, are the
responsibility of the Highways Agency which manages its own winter
service. The Highways Agency uses Cornwall Council’s salt
barns as the base for its own gritting operations.
It takes around three hours to treat each of the Council’s 25
pre salting routes. CORMAC staff are on standby 24 hours a
day, seven days a week – including Christmas Day- to enable them to
respond to emergency situations at very short notice.
The Council currently has around 19,500 tonnes of salt ready
for use this winter and will, as usual, buy additional stock during
the winter months if required.
Salting of roads is a precautionary treatment to reduce the
freezing point of water in frosty conditions and is designed to
reduce the possibility of skidding or more serious accidents.
However it is important to remember that even on pre treated roads
salting will not stop heavy snow from settling and sleet, hail and
rain can cause problems with the salt being washed off the
road. It will also not prevent the formation of black ice
when rain falls on sub zero roads.
“The recent heavy rain we have experienced coupled with the
freezing temperatures means that the flood water will turn to ice-
creating a very difficult situation on the roads” said Jeremy
Edwards, the Council’s Highway Network Manager. “Some of
this may well be black ice which will add to the problems for
“We can never guarantee that roads will be free of ice and would
urge everyone to ensure that they drive according to the
existing road and weather conditions. “
CORMAC staff monitor the weather conditions throughout the day
and night, liaising closely with forecasters specifically employed
for this task. They also use information from 22 roadside
sensors which measure road surface temperature and other factors
such as salt levels, precipitation, air temperature, dew point and
wind speed which is then relayed back to both the forecasters and
highways staff. This information is used to decide if and
when to carry out the pre-salting treatments.
Bert Biscoe, portfolio holder for transportation, highways and
environment operations, said 'Although the Council and other
agencies work hard to manage winter weather please check forecasts
before you travel. Don’t assume a road has been treated,
drive carefully and think of others – it can take up to ten times
longer to stop in icy conditions so please reduce speed and keep a
reasonable distance between yourself and other vehicles, look out
for pedestrians and cyclists and, be especially careful on minor
roads, driving according to the weather and road conditions you are
experiencing – a road can be treacherously icy, especially in the
morning, even if the sun is shining.
“If you find a dangerous situation on any road please – safely –
let the Council know.'
The Council has produced a winter driving leaflet containing
advice and information on how to drive safely in adverse weather
conditions which is available on a special snow and ice in Cornwall section on
the Council’s website. The snow pack area also
contains details of the Council’s winter maintenance policy and
procedures, including details of which roads are treated, advice on
how to stay warm during the cold weather, together with a copy of
the Government’s national Snow Code which gives advice to members
of the public on clearing roads and pavements in their local
Staff from the Council’s Emergency Management service have been
working with the police and the voluntary sector to draw up a list
of volunteer 4 x 4 drivers who will help transport essential
workers such as nurses and doctors and care workers to and from
work during a prolonged period of severe weather. Adult
Care and Support staff have also been liaising with community
health staff to ensure that vulnerable members of local communities
receive support during emergency situations.
Last year the Council used Twitter to provide information about
disruptions to services such as school closures caused by the snow
and ice as well as posting the information on its website. It
will be repeating this again this year – with all information sent
out on Cornwall Council #ccsnow.
The Highways service is also using Twitter to provide
information about the situation on the roads, including details of
when the gritters are being sent out, on @cornwallroads.
Road conditions and treatment
Gritting and winter maintenance
Story posted 28 November 2012