Gritting

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  2. Winter maintenance policy

Winter maintenance policy

The Winter Service can be briefly described as precautionary salting or treatment of the highway network based on a pre-established priority system, forecast temperatures, and levels of ice or snow. The purpose of this service is to minimise accidents and disruption caused by the weather and enable the authority to discharge its responsibilities and obligations.

As the Highway Authority we have a statutory duty to ensure that Coventry's highway infrastructure is safe for use by our stakeholders and users. Designated routes will be gritted when Officers determine that carriageway conditions require treatment.

It should be noted that the service does not guarantee that at any given time the highway will be free of ice or snow, even following treatment as Rock Salt becomes less effective in very heavy snow and also at temperatures below -5°C.

Operating Period

The period for 24 hour continual monitoring and priority operating will run from 1 October until 30 April.

The winter operating period will run from November to March each year. This year it will commence on 26 October 2020 to 4 March 2021, but may be extended if weather conditions determine that this is necessary.

Relative risk at the differing points throughout the season

Risk period

Definition

Time

Weather conditions

High

A period of standby to ensure salting starts within 1 hour of instruction with a possibility of continuous 24 hour operations.

December, January, February

Severe – probable

Medium

A period of standby with low possibility of continuous 24 hour operations

November and

March

Severe – may occur

Low

Call out

October, April

Severe – not expected

Service provision

The service covers both precautionary and reactive salting / gritting and snow clearance on designated routes covering 415km of the highway network across the City over a 20 week period from early November to mid-March,

During the winter operating period Highways Operations will provide the necessary resources (including suitably trained personnel) in order to achieve the required standards. The Council’s Street Pride – North East and City Centre team (NE&CC) will also carry out the salting / gritting of certain footways and car parks within the City Centre.

Rock Salt is stored at the City Councils Whitley Depot in a Salt Barn that has an operating capacity of 4000T and this is filled to capacity October each year.

During an average Winter 2000-2500T of Rock Salt is used over 40-50 treatments. Each full treatment uses 50T on average.

The following treatment actions may be instructed as appropriate to the forecast conditions.

Precautionary Salting

Road salting is undertaken on Priority Route Network (PRN) before ice or snow is likely to be present on the road surface. 

Post Salting (including snow clearing)

Road salting is undertaken when ice or snow is already present on the road surface.

Snow clearance

Snow clearance will be carried out to either prevent the accumulation of or to clear snow. Route priority and requirements will be determined by the SDO/DO as outlined within this plan.

At times of heavy snowfall, other resources from within the Place Directorate will assist with the hand salting / gritting of footpaths and junctions.

Winter duty officers

The decision making process as to whether or not to carry out some form of winter maintenance action is carried out by nominated Senior Duty Officers. These officers form a duty rota to cover the complete winter period. This decision will be based largely on predicted road surface temperatures (NOT air temperatures), the amount of moisture on the road and/or the amount of residual salt on the network from previous treatments.

All Senior Duty Officers are required to have received advanced weather forecast training prior to commencement of the role.

Senior Duty Officers (SDO)

The SDO is required to monitor and record all weather information and road sensor data.  Based on this information, to then decide if a treatment is required and at what time treatment should be made. Once a decision has been made the Duty Officer will be informed of the treatment actions. All actions are then recorded by the SDO. The SDO also contacts all relevant City Council Departments and arranges for a tweet to be sent out using the #WMGrit hashtag to help inform the public of intended action.

Duty Officers (DO)

The Duty Officer is responsible for the execution of the operation and is required to make decisions they feel are required to ensure the operation is completed within the 3.5 hours treatment time.

Duty Officers are required to regularly record locations of winter maintenance vehicles (tracker system) and weather / surface conditions, to demonstrate that the Council has discharged its obligations.

When the Duty Officer is informed by the Senior Duty Officer of a treatment decision the Duty Officer will carry out the following:

  • Contact all winter vehicle drivers including JCB Operator and vehicles fitters
  • Inform winter crews on arrival at the depot of the required routes treatments
  • Instruct workshop vehicle fitters to mobilise ploughs if required.
  • Liaise with ESU and inform all local radio stations and police that a call out is taking place and a brief reason why, subject to Council communications policy.
  • Record all times of the gritting operation, an accurate log will be kept of all occurrences that take place with respective times and reasons.
  • Record and report any winter vehicle defects to the vehicle workshop Supervisor.

Weather forecasting information

Weather forecasts are provided on a daily basis throughout the winter period to CCC by MetDesk, who will provide a detailed forecast covering an initial 24hr period, and longer 2-5 day summary.

Local weather information is fed into the forecasting process via 3 local weather stations situated on Tamworth Road, A45 Fletchampstead Highway and the Ring Road Junction 4.

Winter Service Network (WSN)

Coventry City Council considers this service as essential, it will therefore treat its road network including carriageway and areas of footway according to their importance in the highway hierarchy and the prevailing weather conditions. 

For this reason the Winter Service Network (WSN) has been established and the risk determined. Route plans and road lists for the routes are held at the operational depots and at the Highways office. The WSN consists of 8 key routes.

Each route has a dedicated gritting vehicle plus 1 vehicle is kept at the Depot as back up should there be a breakdown that the on-duty fitter cannot repair.

Interactive map of the gritting routes and grit bins

The above link to the map may not work if you are on a Coventry City Council network, please try this internal link for the online gritting map.

Prioritised Route Network (PRN)

However when extreme conditions are evident on the network it may not possible to afford the same level of winter service across the whole WSN.  For this reason there is a further level of prioritised routes within the WSN which are of a strategic importance to Coventry.  These routes are defined as priority 1 routes.

Download the priority gritting network map

Mutual aid arrangements

CCC have contingency arrangements in the form of a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) through the West Midlands HIMIG Winter maintenance subgroup. The group includes the following maintenance authorities; Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council (SMBC), Warwickshire County Council (WCC), Kier (representing Birmingham City Council), Walsall, Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Dudley.

Salt bins

A highway authority provides salt bins on the highway network. Salt bins are provided for residents to self-help in salting the roads and footways in their areas. In order for the bin to be utilised, it must be provided close to residents who are prepared (but not obliged) to spread the salt. Salt bins will only be provided if the route is not on a precautionary salting route. Any changes to the salt bin locations shall be agreed with the Council.  Requests for the provision of salt bins are assessed using a strict scoring criteria.

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