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Source: Scotland – City of Aberdeen

Gritters will be out on the city’s roads this afternoon for the first time this winter with temperatures plunging to below 0C predicted for this evening.

The forecast is for below 0C for most parts of the city with clear skies after the sleet and snow showers this morning so Aberdeen City Council gritters will be out treating the primary routes – the main roads which cover almost half of the city’s network.

The vehicles are one of the features of how the council prepares for and deals with winter road conditions and the other parts include a stockpile of more than 12,000 tonnes of salt, about 180 staff, and the facility for the public to track gritters online.

In the council’s winter maintenance programme, a budget for winter and emergencies of £1.574million has been approved to ensure that traffic on the city’s main roads keeps moving. The programme also includes how priorities are outlined for gritting roads and pavements and planned operations are detailed.

Early morning and standby gritting operations technically started at the beginning of this month however the temperatures have been above 0C so there has been no need for gritting to take place. Early morning and standby gritting operations will run through to 15 March which can be extended depending on road conditions and if forecasts are showing wintry weather.

Almost half (47%) of Aberdeen’s roads will be treated before 7.30am under the plans, with 590 miles of roads in the city – more than the distance from Aberdeen to London.

Weather forecasts are closely monitored throughout the day and night, and gritters and ploughs can be out 24/7. Residents will be able to track road gritters as they drive around the city at www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/winter.

Aberdeen City Council transport spokesperson Councillor Sandra Macdonald said: “The weather has been very mild so far and we hope this continues into the winter but of course living in Scotland always means there’s a possibility of snow and ice which can last for long periods.

“Even in difficult winter conditions, our dedicated staff go above and beyond their duty to help people while doing their best to grit roads and pavements however we cannot be everywhere around the city at the same time.

“Our early morning gritter drivers are usually driving to work themselves on untreated roads before they start work at 4.45am to ensure the main roads are gritted for most people before the morning rush hour.

“We want to keep roads open and residents safe and I’d encourage people to keep a close check on weather forecasts, plan their journeys, adhere to police and travel advice, and look up information at www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/winter.”

The primary routes which are treated first are the main transport routes through the city and include major bus routes, roads at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, and roads near fire stations. The primary routes make up almost half of Aberdeen’s roads network and are never impassable unless there are abnormal conditions. These are gritted early morning from 4.45am to 7am as the early morning gritting operations, to ensure they are salted before rush hour.

The primary routes are pre-treated and there is 24/7 availability of equipment and crews. The 10 primary routes can be viewed at www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/winter.

The secondary routes comprise significant through-routes in communities and are treated only once the primary roads are open to traffic. Roads that carry medium traffic flows or give access to community or public facilities of a non-urgent nature and secondary routes on higher ground are usually a priority.

Secondary routes include roads near sheltered housing and social work properties, near schools where possible, cemeteries and crematoria, shopping centres, and access to facilities in parks and gardens.

The other roads are all other routes which are not normally treated unless emergency vehicles require access, there is a medical emergency or funeral, and they include minor roads where road users can make their way to the nearest higher priority route, local access roads and cul-de-sacs.

The other roads are only gritted after the primary and secondary routes are open to traffic and it should be noted experience has shown primary and secondary routes are usually the only routes which are gritted during periods of bad weather.

The priority 1 pavements, which are highly used, are in the city centre and include two routes. The other pavements include all other footways which are treated on area basis, with a priority given to high usage and public facilities or access. Cycleways are treated as priority 2 footways.

Aberdeen City Council resources include about 180 staff comprising of 90 roads maintenance staff plus an extra 90 parks and grounds staff who carry out much of the pavement gritting especially near sheltered housing, schools and hospitals, eight dedicated road gritters with snow plough attachments, 14 demountable road gritters with snow plough attachments, 21 pavement gritters with snow plough attachments, a de-icer applicator vehicle (de-icing fluid is only used if temperatures drop low enough to stop salt working, and 12,000 tonnes of salt in stock (grit and sand are not used unless the temperatures are too low for salt to work, and they also block gutters which can cause additional problems).

There are also large community salt bins are at 20 convenient locations around the city along with grit bins, and the big community salt bags which are being delivered to households across the city for community use.

More information, including the locations of the large community salt bins, can be found at www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/winter.

MIL OSI United Kingdom