Winter Road Maintenance
Gritting the roads
We can't grit every road in the city and so it is important that we prioritise more important roads and footways. We have done so based on guidance and recommendations from Central Government.
We routinely treat 745 miles of carriageway throughout the city (over 50%, a higher proportion than many local authorities) which includes all main roads together with all regular frequent bus routes, roads identified as Emergency Services routes, and main access routes to large residential estates.
It is not possible to treat smaller local roads.
Snow clearance will take place on the treated network when required.Report an empty grit bin or gritting problem
With the resources available to us, it is not possible to treat every road in the city. Therefore a priority treated network has been established based upon national guidance and recommendations issued to councils by the government. Our network is divided into three priority levels:
- Priority Level 1
The Priority One Road Network consists of all the major roads within the city.
- Priority Level 2
The Priority Two Road Network includes other roads with heavy traffic, which are an essential part of Birmingham's road network.
- Priority Level 3
The Priority Three Road Network consists of other busy local roads, important routes identified by the emergency services, all frequent bus routes, main access routes to large residential areas and important commuter routes.
Overall, this priority treated network covers 1200 kilometres (708 miles), which is nearly 50% of the total length of all our roads within the city. This is about the distance from Birmingham to the south of France!
The gritting service operates from the end of October through to the middle of May each year, and during this period our fleet of gritters, together with associated equipment, is on standby 24 hours a day ready to treat the roads when required.
We monitor road and weather conditions around the clock during the winter period, analysing all information available which enables us to make an informed decision when to grit.
The information includes forecast road surface temperatures, air temperatures, predicted rain, probability of snow and other winter weather conditions within the West Midlands. In addition to forecasts, we operate ten weather stations around the city and have access to the information from a further 25 stations owned by our neighbouring authorities.
We aim to undertake precautionary gritting at the most effective time to prevent ice or frost from forming on the carriageways. This is frequently late at night or in the very early morning when temperatures are approaching their lowest. Where possible, we try to avoid gritting during rush hours however, during very severe weather, reactive gritting is undertaken whenever necessary.
View an interactive map of all our grit bins and gritting routes at localview.birmingham.gov.uk/Highways/Sites/wintermaintenance
The attachment below is a complete list of roads that Birmingham City Council grits.
Highways, part of the Place Directorate, is responsible for ensuring our partner Amey provides an effective Winter Maintenance Service for the City of Birmingham. The objective of this service is:
"To deliver an efficient and cost effective service for priority highway networks, which so far as is reasonably practicable enables the safe movement of vehicular and pedestrian traffic with a minimum of delay throughout the winter period whilst limiting the environmental impacts of the service".
This service operates from the end of October through to the middle of May each year and during this period the council fleet of gritters, together with associated equipment, is on standby 24 hours a day ready to treat the roads when required. If frost or ice is expected to form on roads or snow is anticipated we will carry out precautionary salting (gritting) of the priority highway network. This will involve spreading rock salt onto the highway which helps to prevent both icy patches and snow accumulations forming.
The pavements within the core of the city centre and Sutton Coldfield also receive precautionary treatment. Other footways in local shopping centres are cleared of snow when icy conditions persist and resources become available.
- 1200km of carriageway is routinely treated by Amey on behalf of Birmingham City Council.
- This network is divided into 23 gritting routes.
- A new fleet of gritting vehicles carry out this function.
- Salt spreading rates are adjusted to suit weather conditions.
- Each gritter carries 7 tonnes of rock salt.
- Most gritters are fitted with a snow plough.
- On average, each precautionary gritting run uses 100 tonnes of rock salt.
- We typically treat the roads 40 to 50 times per year.
- The city's opening rock salt stock is 7000 tonnes.
- It takes between 3 and 4 hours to treat the entire priority network.
- Ice is most likely to form at dawn.
Although often referred to as grit, the material we spread on the road is actually rock salt. We obtain our salt from the salt mines in Cheshire and initial stock at the commencement of the winter maintenance period is 7,000 tonnes. The salt is in rock form when it is mined and needs to be crushed into small gravel before it can be used by our gritting vehicles. When you see our gritting vehicles in operation you will notice the salt is in its gravel form and light brown in colour. Only when vehicle tyres crush this gravel into the road and dry conditions prevail will the salt appear white.
At present there are 1,266 grit bins provided across the city. These bins are usually placed off the treated network at approved locations and are to assist road users on a self-help basis. They cover potentially hazardous locations such as gradients to busy junctions and steep hills and sharp bends.
The material within grit bins is to be used on public roads and pavement areas only, it must not be used on private drives or paths. This salt is not intended for use on private driveways and property. Rock salt for use on private land can be obtained from local stockists such as supermarkets and DIY stores.