Lancashire County Council’s gritting policy is set to change this winter meaning that in some dry conditions, less salt will be spread on routes than has previously been the case at the corresponding temperature.
However, wetter weather will often see more grit used compared to the current standard. Up until now, the policy was based largely on temperature alone.
A report to the authority’s cabinet, according to the Chorley Guardian, states that the new process will ensure that ‘more accurate amounts’ of salt are deposited depending on exactly how much is needed.
The report also said that the revised winter service plan for the county’s roads will take into account more nuanced temperature variations when determining how much grit to use.
Currently, salting amounts are amended depending on whether the forecast road surface temperature is within one of three different ranges. From now on, the level of grit laid down will vary across eight temperature bands.
The volume of traffic on the road when the salt spreaders are in operation will also be factored in – with greater amounts of grit used during overnight periods when there are fewer other vehicles on the road to enhance its effectiveness by driving over it.
“We can now better monitor with computer systems the rate of grit that we put onto the roads [depending on whether they are] dry, wet, damp or have snow on,” cabinet member for highways Keith Iddon. There will also be 11 new gritters added to the Lancashire fleet this year.
The greatest difference in the amount of grit used under the new plan will come within the -2 to -4 degree Celsius temperature ranges in dry conditions – here, it will drop by between 40 and 47 percent from current levels.
However, in most wet conditions, levels will either stay the same or increase compared to the calculation made on the current temperature ranges alone.
In periods of light traffic, between 11pm and 4am, a greater amount of grit will be used at almost all temperatures compared to the corresponding rates for those conditions in the current scenario where traffic volume is not yet a consideration.
Significant increases in salt spreading will occur in wet conditions overnight – with between 40 and 73 percent more used than would currently be the case at temperatures of between -3 and -5 Celsius.
There are no changes to the process of gritting roads after ice has formed or snow has fallen. The full winter service plan for 2020/21 is expected to be published in the coming weeks.