North Yorkshire County Council is preparing for winter with 55,000 tonnes of salt stockpiled for use by its fleet of 89 gritters.
With a £7 million budget, the council routinely treats 4,400km (2,750 miles) of road, representing more than half the network, which is the longest of any county in England.
Priority one highways – the main road network – account for 2,300km, and are treated morning and night during freezing conditions. Priority two routes, which represent 2,100km, are treated after completion of morning work on the priority one roads, typically from 7am onwards. The priority two routes include local access routes to communities.
In addition to its fleet of gritters, the council has 12 snowblowers for both roads and footways and a network of 130 farmers and other contractors equipped with snowploughs to keep the roads open.
In preparation for the coming season, it has also streamlined its gritting operation in the Upper Dales with the creation of a new salt store in Hawes.
The council has worked with Hawes auction mart to build the store, which will stock 600 tonnes of salt to aid operations during snow as well as routine gritting operations. Gritters covering the Upper Dales currently work out of Leyburn, but being able to refill at Hawes during snowy conditions will enable them to be more responsive, getting onto the roads to continue treatment more quickly.
“Dealing with severe winter conditions on such a large network is a complex and expensive operation,” said county councillor Gareth Dadd, executive member for highways. “However, it remains one of our top priorities, and once again we are well prepared.
“The construction of the new salt store in Hawes to improve our operation in one of the most remote parts of the county is an indication of our commitment to the service and will, I’m sure, be welcomed by those who use the roads in the Upper Dales.”
The council is continuing its winter community partnership scheme, which gives parish councils, town councils and other community groups the opportunity to support an enhanced level of maintenance by bringing together volunteers who are willing to take part in clearing snow and treating roads and footways.