Preparation keeps Devon moving during winter

Devon highways tractors

Posted on: 6 November 2017

Gritters were out in some parts of Devon last night for the first time this season, but Devon County Council’s highways maintenance team works throughout the year to keep Devon moving during the winter months.

In readiness for winter, the County Council starts the winter season with around 25,000 tonnes of salt stored in preparation for gritting, and around 130,000 gullies are cleaned throughout the year to keep water off of the roads and keep motorists safe.

Skanska, Devon’s highway maintenance contractor, has taken delivery of nine new tractors, supplied by local business, Masons Kings. These will work across the county.

The new tractors are replacing the old fleet, which has worked in excess of 52,000 hours. In autumn and winter they will clean the roads, to help them function more smoothly. The new fleet will also be used as a backup to operate salt spreaders, snow blowers and ploughs.

Six new gritters with snow ploughs have also been added to Devon’s frontline fleet of winter vehicles, with the county’s gritting routes covering around 2,000 miles of Devon’s 8,000 mile road network.

Councillor Stuart Hughes

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “Our Highway Operations Control Centre (HOCC) is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to co-ordinate work on the highway network and is equipped to monitor the effects of winter weather on Devon’s roads. With more miles of roads than any other highway authority in the country, it’s vital that we have a reliable fleet working on our roads, particularly during the winter months.

“We have the additional support of our army of Snow Warden volunteers during prolonged cold spells to treat roads which aren’t covered on our gritting network. We’re also encouraging towns and parishes to report online if their grit bin needs re-filling or if their snow wardens need to top up their salt stocks.”

Nigel Tomlinson, Business Director at Skanska, explained: “When temperatures fall below zero we have to be ready to grit the roads at critical times during the day, particularly in the early hours of the morning and before the evening rush hour so these are kept safe.

“We work throughout the year to clean out gullies, which if blocked, will cause flooding on the road network and a lot of disruption to motorists. It is important that we plan our activities carefully, if we don’t order the right equipment at the right time, it could lead to delays on the road network. We need to invest in the right equipment and these tractors are a very important part of Devon’s highways maintenance contract.”

The County Council’s HOCC uses a network of 35 roadside ice detectors at strategic locations to help predict conditions by providing information on road surface temperatures. Radar and satellite images are also used to track rain and cloud cover across the county. Devon, along with neighbouring authorities, also receives daily updates from specialised weather forecasters to help determine what action to take on the county’s roads.

In an average winter, around 14,000 tonnes of salt are used on Devon County Council’s roads, but in severe winters it can go up to almost 30,000 tonnes.

To find out more about the County Council’s Snow Warden scheme here or contact Parish Council representatives who can liaise with their local Neighbourhood Highway Officer.

More information and winter travel advice from Devon County Council is available here or for updates on Twitter follow @DevonAlert

Devon County Council and Skanska are working in partnership to deliver highway maintenance and improvement works. It is part of a seven-year contract to maintain Devon’s 8,000 miles of roads, 1,800 miles of pavements and 3,500 bridges.

It includes:
• Planned and reactive maintenance
• Routine and cyclical maintenance
• Winter maintenance
• Emergency response
• Environmental maintenance
• Highway inspections
• Capital maintenance works
• Maintenance design

Posted in: DCC Homepage | Environment