Highways team is gritting ready for the winter

Roger Williams (Head of Highways) pictured with a gritter, Ringmer Depot. 11/10/13
Roger Williams (Head of Highways) pictured with a gritter, Ringmer Depot. 11/10/13

As the temperature drops the team at East Sussex Highways (ESH) is getting ready to grit the roads during the winter months, with more salt than ever before to cope with the potential demand.

The organisation, which is responsible for areas including roads, pavements, grass verges and drains, is a partnership between East Sussex County Council and contractors Kier.

There is a total of 24 gritters at the ready which cost £10,000 to deploy at a time and they can travel up to 30mph while gritting the roads.

ESH has come under fire from motorists in the past who have been left stranded on roads in icy and snowy conditions but Roger Williams, head of Highways East Sussex County Council, said the team had been working hard to not only communicate better with drivers but that changes had also been made to the system this year.

He also said that motorists must play their part in being prepared for the cold snap and take a winter kit with them including de-icer, a blanket and mobile phone charger.

Speaking on Friday at the Ringmer depot he said, “We’re launching our winter maintenance season today, we have been preparing all through the summer ready for the winter season that starts for us on November 1.

“We’ve got 24 gritters, all of which have been serviced and ready to roll, 12,000 tonnes of salt which is more than we ever had have had in previous years. We’ve filled our thousand grit bins ready to go. We’ve got forecast coming in from the Met office three times a day and all our drivers trained so we’re absolutely ready in terms of the season coming and the winter that we are all going to be facing.”

The team, which also has depots in Maresfield and Sidley, also uses seven weather stations in the county to gauge information.

Mr Williams added, “We’ve made some changes this year, we’ve made sure we’ve updated the software that we use for making those decisions in sending the gritters out. We’ve got thermal mapping this year which shows us the colder roads in the county so we treat those first rather than the warmer roads.

“We’re putting more information out to the public, we’re improving our website and using Twitter more this year as well.”