Every year we spend more than £1 million on the winter maintenance of trunk and county roads. The roads are salted when there is a risk of ice, and during severe weather, cleared of snow so far as is possible. The aim is to reduce the risk to motorists in what can sometimes be appalling conditions. Approximately 30% of roads are treated as a priority when weather conditions demand it.
We have a fleet of 21 gritter lorries with highly trained drivers which will treat around a third of the 3,526 kilometres of roads in the county when necessary. We have approximately 14,000 tonnes of salt in stock, most of which are stored under cover in Salt Barns in strategic locations across the county.
Our staff are on standby 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to respond to the changing weather and road conditions. Around 1040 kilometres of roads across Carmarthenshire can be treated within three hours of a bad weather warning.
The first priority is given to trunk and principal routes: this includes roads leading to hospitals, ambulance stations, fire stations, railway stations, bus garages, important bus routes, strategic commuter routes, slip roads, and other important distributor routes.
In extreme conditions, secondary priority is given to important commuter routes, shopping streets, historically problematic sections (not on the first priority routes) and other bus routes.
We have been appointed by The South Wales Trunk Road Agent to treat trunk roads within Carmarthenshire and 100% of trunk roads are treated when winter conditions demand.
We currently have 1,100 grit bins across the county. We do not provide additional grit bins, but we do work with town and community councils and residents’ associations to review the locations of grit bins. We inspect and fill all of our grit bins in the autumn. If there is snow, the bins will only be re-filled if staff and equipment become available to undertake the work.
The salt should be used very sparingly, as it does not aid grip but is supplied to assist in preventing the formation of ice and melting of snow. It is provided for use only on public roads and pavements, and should not be used or transported anywhere else. We do not refill grit bins on demand.
We don’t routinely salt footpaths or pavements. We have to prioritise major roads rather than pavements to prevent the most serious accidents. Hand salting of pavements will only be carried out if staff and equipment become available, with pavements in main shopping areas and busy urban areas treated as a priority. We encourage householders and businesses to help themselves by clearing snow and ice from public areas near their properties.
Our gritters follow a detailed route, so that they can grit the primary roads within a specific area. When designing this detailed route we take into account the length of road that the gritter can treat when it has been fully loaded with salt.
To maximise efficiency and reduce the time taken to salt the roads, the gritter has to travel across some intersecting roads to be able to salt the primary roads. It is not feasible to salt these intersecting roads as the gritter would not have sufficient salt to treat the primary roads.
The gritter may be empty and returning to the depot after completing its run.
When the gritter lorry is using its snow ploughs, salt is not always applied.
It would be impossible to grit every street in the county. Trunk and principal routes are given priority; this includes roads leading to hospitals, ambulance stations, fire stations, railway stations, bus garages, important bus routes, slip roads, and historically problematic sections.
In extreme conditions, secondary priority is given to shopping streets, historically problematic sections (not on the first priority routes) and other bus routes.
We are sure residents understand that the most important thing when supplies are under pressure is to keep the main roads clear in the interests of emergency services, bus services, continuity of food and fuel supplies and to minimise the risk of accidents.
We also respond to emergencies and we will tackle side roads when prevailing weather conditions and salt supplies permit.
We are supplied by Salt Union, a company based in Cheshire, which supplies a large number of local authorities in Wales and the UK as a whole. We work regionally in collaboration with Welsh Government and other local authorities to maintain supplies.
There is 24-hour availability, seven days a week. Gritting teams go out at times that are dependent on the weather including late night and during the early hours of the morning. We grit around 1040 kilometres in one shift, that’s 30 per cent of the road network in Carmarthenshire.
Yes, we have a well developed Winter Maintenance Plan which identifies priorities and how they are dealt with. At the start of every winter we are fully stocked with supplies and we top them up when required. The plan is reviewed every year.
We have approximately 14,000 tonnes of salt in stock at the start of the season – double the amount compared to four years ago - most of which is stored under cover in salt barns. Although that sounds like a lot, we can use up to 1,000 tonnes a day with continuous gritting during severe ice and snow. We can never say that we will have enough salt because we do not know what the winter will bring, however, we are very well prepared with the recommended resilience levels met.
Carmarthenshire is part of the Wales salt cell which determines deliveries to local authorities on a needs basis during difficult times.
We continuously receive weather forecast information from MeteoGroup UK and gritting actions are carried out if poor road conditions are predicted. We are also able to monitor data obtainable from weather outstations that have been installed on trunk and principal roads in the West Wales region.
Please note NOT ALL roads in the county are gritted. If snow should fall, snow clearing work will come into operation across the whole county on a priority basis.
Page updated on: 16/03/2018
More from Travel, Roads & Parking