Island Roads gritting fleet gears up for winter

Posted on: June 21, 2019 at 6:57 pm

The Island’s gritting fleet is now primed and ready for action as Island Roads enters the start of the winter maintenance period (November 1 to March 31).

A 1,641-tonne stockpile of salt is ready for use and all the Island’s gritters – six frontline vehicles, one specialist gritter for smaller roads and four standby gritting lorries – have all been prepared for duty and crews familiarised with their gritting routes.

The six frontline gritting lorries contribute to a salting route covering 369 kilometres of the Island’s highway network concentrating on major roads and those serving the Island’s main populated areas.

The decision on whether to treat the network is based on the Met Office weather forecasting service which provides localised information on the expected temperatures the likelihood of any precipitation prior to falling temperatures, possible hoar frost or snow.

Road temperature readings are also taken from two weather stations on the island at Duxmore and Rowridge, while local knowledge and feedback also contributes on the daily decision on whether to treat the roads or not. The Isle of Wight Council and other partners such as the emergency services are informed of the daily decision on whether gritting is required.

Once called upon to treat the network, all the gritters can be monitored as to where they are on the network at any given time.  Even the rates and spread of the salt and the speed of the vehicle can be checked.

In the event of snow conditions, the gritter can also be fitted with snow ploughs to further enhance the capability of the winter fleet

“Our winter maintenance programme is a major part of the PFI contract and a lot of preparation goes into ensuring we are ready to go into action as soon as we are required,” said Dave Wallis, Island Roads operations manager.

“The amount of salt we have in the new winter maintenance depot at Stag Lane is enough to see us through an average winter. Last year, for example, which was pretty mild, we salted the network on 21 occasions and used a total of 600 tonnes of salt.”

All of the main fleet of gritters have been named by local school children following a competition held by Island Roads and are currently involved in trial runs around the Island to ensure that the vehicle drivers are well prepared before the cold weather arrives.

Mr Wallis added that gritting did not always ensure that treated roads would be completely fee of ice and reminded motorists that they should always drive in accordance with the prevailing conditions.

Details of the gritting route are available here