Durham County Council is preparing for winter by stockpiling up to 12,500 tonnes of salt at two new barns.
The Wolsingham barn, which was completed in January and cost £500,000 to build, can hold 5,000 tonnes of salt and will supply provisions to the west of the county.
Serving the east of the county, the recently-built £750,000 Peterlee structure, which is based at the Hackworth depot, replaces the former Wellfield depot barn, which was beyond repair, and has an increased capacity of 7,500 tonnes.
Every year the council sets out its winter maintenance policy to deal with snow and ice and to make sure that salt stocks are topped up, salt bins are available across the county and a fleet of gritters is primed and ready to hit the roads.
As parts of County Durham are rural and sparsely populated the aim is to keep as many communities and main routes as possible open to try and help people get to work and school.
As well as the additional barns, in preparation for the winter conditions there will also be:
• More than 42,000 tonnes of salt stored in barns ready for use
• Thirty-seven large power gritters, 33 trailer gritters and four snow blowers
• A total of 2,500 salt bins at various locations will be filled for people to help clear the areas around their homes.
Cllr Brian Stephens, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “We realise how important it is to people to keep our roads moving and safe throughout the winter months.
“Our two new salt barns, along with the supplies of salt already in place, will mean we can keep our major roads treated, making journeys as safe as possible in winter conditions. These new facilities will help us deal with any issues that may arise.”
John Reed, head of technical services at Durham County Council, added: “By building two new storage facilities capable of holding thousands of tonnes of salt we aim to reassure residents that we understand how important this issue is to them.
“We will also be targeting key routes throughout the county, as well as public transport networks, in order to minimise disruption as much as possible.”
The council treats more than 1,700km, or 45%, of the county’s roads between 80 and 100 times during normal winter conditions but will also clear other minor roads if possible in severe, prolonged bad weather.