DCSIMG

Gritting army is ready to roll

Getting ready:  Willie Marshall and the pile of grit at the Cuerden Depot. Willie drives his gritter in Preston City Centre

Getting ready: Willie Marshall and the pile of grit at the Cuerden Depot. Willie drives his gritter in Preston City Centre

In a building that would not look out of place on Grand Designs lies the secret to a stress-free winter for the county’s drivers.

Stockpiled inside what can only be described as an igloo-like structure, lie thousands of tonnes of salt.

And it smells suspiciously like parkin.

In fact the 3,000-tonne pile of grit in the Lancashire County Council depot on Cuerden Way, Bamber Bridge, has good reason for smelling sweet: it is coated in molasses.

Rob Goulding, highways manager at the site, said: “It gives weight to the salt so when we spread it we don’t lose any as dust. It means we can be more efficient.”

So far the council has amassed 33,000 tonnes of salt in its 10 depots across Lancashire to use on the county’s icy roads.

This is 10 per cent more than this time last year and more than the recommended pre-season stock.

Last year’s mild winter saw 15,000 tonnes of salt spread on the roads, 6,000 tonnes fewer than in 2010/11, which was the coldest winter for 100 years.

Rob said: “On an average run of maybe 60 or 70 kilometres we would use about four tonnes.

“A precautionary treatment in advance of a mild frost costs about £12,000, and in advance of snow £32,000.

“We budget £4m each year - but that doesn’t mean that we stop when we reach that amount. We do what we have to do.”

Rob said that routes on their priority network were treated first. These include motorways, all A and B roads and any other routes of importance such as those providing the only access to villages.

He said: “We never say we can treat everything, but we do put a lot of thought into that network and also into exactly when we go out.

This year all 49 front-line gritters have been fitted with sat nav systems, which means that drivers can easily follow routes that they are unfamiliar with in different parts of the county.

Ridwan Musa, operations manager at Cuerden, said: “We have drivers on standby for 26 weeks of the year and they work 24/7 if they have to.”

If you look carefully you may see one of the 12 gritters named last year by the public - Gritter Garbo is a particular favourite.

 

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