With more than 2,400 tonnes of salt at its disposal, St Helens Council’s Highways section is ready for whatever the cold weather has in store, as the annual winter maintenance programme gets under way.
From now until the first week in April 2020, the council could carry out as many as 90 grits across seven of its key routes, covering nearly 40 per cent of its 748km carriageway network which is almost double the amount required by the government.
The first operation was undertaken last week, with the team successfully completing their round at 10:52pm.
A dedicated team of 25 staff work around the clock, acting quickly on information coming in from the borough’s two weather stations in Warrington Road, Bold - and by the Game Bird pub on the East Lancashire Road, which measure surface temperatures and wind speed.
Once temperatures approach zero degrees, the team will go out in the seven gritting vehicles stored at the Hardshaw Brook depot, spreading between 10 to 20 grams of treated salt before ice forms and snow settles, to keep the borough’s roads open for the morning commutes to work and school runs.
St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, Councillor Lynn Clarke, said: “Our winter maintenance team deserve a huge amount of credit for the exceptional job they do year after year, working all hours and in very challenging conditions to ensure our highways are safe for road users.
“Due to budget constraints we can’t physically cover our entire road network in one operation – and while the team do go above and beyond by covering more ground than they need to, it’s still important for residents to plan their journeys accordingly.”
As temperatures, drop, the council is also calling on residents to do their part by looking out for older and vulnerable family members or neighbours who may need assistance.
Councillor Clarke added: “As a council, we promote community spirit and we know the people of St Helens borough do a fantastic job of coming together in times of need and looking after their own.
“Whether it’s by clearing someone’s driveway or just ensuring they’re staying warm, it’s that little bit of help that can go a long way - and luckily we have that in abundance here in St Helens."
For more information on the winter maintenance programme, including a list of roads that are gritted in your area and where you can find your nearest grit bin, visit: www.sthelens.gov.uk/traffic-travel-parking/highway-maintenance/winter-maintenance/