With 24 gritters in perfect working order, 12,000 tonnes of salt ready to use and a highways team primed for action, East Sussex County Council is prepared should severe weather strike this winter. Watch our interview with Roger Williams, Head of East Sussex Highways.
Planning for the season starts months in advance and on October 10 and 11, the highways depot in Ringmer was a hive of activity as the council’s winter weather plan was fine tuned in an exercise known as Operation Snowdrop.
As well as making sure the gritters, snowblowers and ploughs are ready to go, the two day operation ensures every member of the team, from control room staff to gritter drivers, knows their role when temperatures plummet.
“It is not as simple as watching the local weather and deciding to spend the £10,000 it costs to send the gritters out onto the county’s roads,” said Roger Williams, head of highways for East Sussex County Council.
“We are in regular contact with the Met Office and, this year, will be using new weather station technology and thermal mapping to pinpoint when the gritters need to go out and what roads need to be prioritised.”
When temperatures fall below zero, the fleet of gritters springs into action gritting 950 miles of road, 42 per cent of the county’s road network and further than the distance from London to Barcelona.
“Keeping the road network clear and safe is a top priority for the highways team, but grit is not magic dust,” Roger added. “While we will do our best to keep traffic flowing during severe weather, motorists need to take precautions and be prepared.
Carrying a shovel, wearing sensible shoes and only travelling if absolutely necessary are just some of the steps you can take to stay safe this winter.”
You can find regular updates during severe weather on our winter service page or you can follow East Sussex Highways on Twitter @esccroads
Notes to editors: East Sussex County Council has a £1.5million budget for winter maintenance. East Sussex Highways works in partnership with Sussex Police, the Highways Agency, Brighton & Hove City Council and West Sussex County Council in the event of severe weather.