Grit and determination

Eddie Fellows, Highways Network Director for Amey's Birmingham operation, blogs on the challenge posed by the current extremely low temperatures gripping the city...

Well, winter is truly here and it’s been a busy few days for our highways teams in Birmingham, working around the clock to keep the main roads and bus routes gritted and safe during this cold snap.

Since Thursday, our gritter drivers have left their families at home, day and night, to plough and spread salt around the city. They have travelled over 6,000 miles and used over 2,000 tonnes of grit-salt in the last 5 days. Battling some awful conditions, the priority is to keep the main roads open for emergency vehicles and public transport and to clear snow and ice from footways in the main shopping areas.

We have hopefully seen the worst of the white stuff, but our main concern now is freezing temperatures. This evening (Monday 11 December) we’re expecting to see road surface temperatures dip as low as -8C and we’re not expecting any let up in the next 4-5 days. This presents our teams with a significant challenge. We will continue to treat the main routes throughout the coming nights and days, but salt is less effective at temperatures below -5C. This means that any water, slush and snow still on the ground is likely to freeze even with salt in it, and that could lead to some hazardous driving conditions especially on side roads.

Our drivers have got the grit (excuse the pun) and determination to get around in the hazardous conditions but we’re up against Mother Nature and it’s an continuous battle to stop ice forming.

Our advice? Don’t venture out in the car unless absolutely necessary and use public transport wherever possible. Members of the public can help by using one of the 1,200 grit bins provided to salt particularly hazardous sections of side roads, but please do not take these vital supplies for use on your own property. De-icing salt can be purchased for most good hardware and DIY stores.

This blog was posted on 11 December 2017

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