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Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans for an outstanding Borough

Gritting and snow clearing

gritting lorries

Gritting and snow clearance are services that form part of our winter maintenance plan, helping to minimise delays and accidents caused by frost, ice and snow.

Our winter maintenance gritting crews are on standby 24 hours a day, seven days a week from October until late April - including Christmas and New Year's Day - ready to treat the roads whenever frost and snow is forecast.

In severe weather, our priority is to keep open all major routes and roads serving emergency facilities and outlying communities. However, local conditions, snow depth and traffic will all impact on this work.

Severe winter conditions can cause disruption to school transport services and those who use these facilities should check this website and local media for updates.

The Government and Met Office also offer information on winter weather.

 

How you find out when we are gritting

During winter weather we provide gritting updates every time the gritters go out. Gritting updates can be accessed via our social media channels. You don't need to hold a Twitter or Facebook account of your own to access this information.

View our Facebook and Twitter pages.

 

How we decide when to grit roads

From October to April we receive daily weather forecasts from MeteoGroup UK (our weather forecast provider). The gritters are ready to swing into action at any time, day or night, and once we are notified of potential frost, ice or snow they will be out gritting before the bad weather arrives.

Though most of our gritting takes place at night and early morning when frost tends to occur, the exact timing and frequency of our gritting actions depends upon the onset and severity of the weather.

Find out what the weather forecast is today (Met Office)

 

When is the grit put down?


We carry out precautionary salting where salt is spread onto road surfaces before the road becomes icy or snow starts to fall. We aim to treat roads before temperatures drop below freezing or snowy weather is forecast to arrive.

 

How we decide which roads should be gritted first

It is not practicable to treat every road in the borough but we do aim to keep main routes clear so that there is minimum disruption to people travelling to and from work. 

View a map showing the main gritting routes.

How we decide which roads should be gritted first

We have divided our road network into three categories for gritting purposes:

Priority 1 routes are gritted every time it is decided treatment is necessary. Priority 1 routes include:

  • all major roads
  • important bus routes
  • busy commuter routes
  • roads leading to emergency services facilities, industrial estates and outlying communities

Priority 2 routes are gritted only during extreme and prolonged icy conditions, only during the day, only if access is practicable for the gritters and only when all Priority 1 routes are clear.

Priority 2 routes include:

  • other bus routes
  • certain areas on refuse collection routes
  • other commuter routes

Priority 3 roads will only be treated when all Priority 1 and Priority 2 routes have been gritted, if grit stocks are good and when our resources allow.

Priority 3 roads are:

  • all roads not listed as Priority 1 or Priority 2 routes

 

Gritting the A19 and A66

Stockton Council does not provide a gritting service for the A19 and the A66. These roads are maintained by Highways England.

To report a problem with gritting on the A19 and A66 (between the A19 and Teesside Park Interchange) telephone: Autolink 01642 560538.

To report a problem with gritting on the A66 (between Teesside Park Interchange and the borough boundary west of Long Newton) telephone: Highways England 0300 123 5000.

 

Gritting in areas outside Stockton Borough

There are cross boundary arrangements in place with neighbouring authorities. This means that local councils agree to treat certain stretches of road within their neighbour's area at the boundary edges. This will explain why you may spot a Hartlepool Council gritter on the A178 Seaton Carew Road or a Stockton Council gritter in Sadberge. 

 

What we use to keep the roads clear

Although we call it grit, the product we actually spread on our roads and footpaths is rock salt.  The salt works by lowering the freezing point of moisture on the road surface so it has to become colder before ice will form.

Before salt can become effective it needs to be crushed by traffic and dissolved into solution.

 

Where our grit comes from

We use locally mined rock salt from Boulby Mine and our stockpile is topped up regularly throughout the winter to ensure we have sufficient reserves.

 

Grit and salt bins

Where roads are not gritted as part of a Priority 1 route we provide salt bins at known problem sites around the borough.

 Salt bins are provided on:

  • locations on Priority 2 and Priority 3 roads
  • steep gradients
  • difficult bends
  • potentially dangerous road junctions
  • exposed locations

The bins are there for you to use on a self-help basis but only on public roads and footpaths, not private ones. 

Our programmed dates for checking and refilling salt bins for 2018/19 are as follows:

  • Week commencing: 1 October 2018
  • Week commencing: 17 December 2018
  • Week commencing: 4 February 2019

Any additional requests received will be looked into by our area technicians and supplementary refills will be made where necessary. 

 

Gritting footpaths and cycleways

We do not grit footpaths or cycleways following overnight frosty conditions as we have to make sure our gritting supplies are used to keep main roads clear.  Also, using salt to treat footpaths and cycleways is not as efficient as using it to treat roads as the salt grains need to be crushed into a solution to be effective.  However, during extreme weather conditions our teams are often taken off other jobs to manually clear footpaths of snow and ice.

During prolonged periods of ice and snow and when resources allow, we will clear footpaths based around:

  • shopping and town centres
  • areas where there are a number of designated older people's homes or sheltered accommodation
  • school entrances 

Can I clear snow from the footpath near my home?

You can, providing you clear the footpath carefully and don't cause an additional hazard by allowing surfaces to refreeze - don't attempt to clear snow by pouring hot water on the area as this is likely to create a sheet of black ice.

More tips on snow clearance as well as a full range of useful winter information are to be found on the Government website.

 

Grit for personal use

Please do not use grit from a council salt bin on your own driveway or footpath; the salt in council salt bins is meant for use on public roads and footpaths, not private ones. If you see anyone using salt bins inappropriately or removing large amounts of salt unlawfully then please report it immediately to Care For Your Area on 01642 391959.

We are not able to provide additional grit to places that are not on the main gritting or manual snow clearing routes or to an area that has not been assessed for a salt bin.

We do not sell or provide grit for personal use so please do not call at the council depot to request grit. You can buy grit from most DIY stores - when the weather is really bad we advise that you telephone them first to check that they have stocks available. 

The Government and Met Office also offer information on winter weather.

 

How effective is salting the roads?

Salt is most effective when traffic moves over it to spread the salt and salty water around. Prolonged and heavy downfalls of snow will naturally dissolve grit salt making it less effective.

 

I’ve seen gritters on the road which aren’t spreading salt - why?

This happens when gritters are either travelling to and from the depot, travelling between treated parts of the network, or travelling back over a previously treated section.

 

Myths

Salting a road prevents the formation of ice

Salt works by lowering the freezing temperature of water. This prevents ice or frost forming on the roads as it would otherwise, once the temperature of the road or the air falls to 0 C.

Salt becomes less effective when the temperature falls below -5C and stops working at -10 C. Pre-salting the road stops salt from freezing to the road surface by forming a separating layer allowing it to be ploughed or churned off by traffic.

 

Spreading salt onto ice or snow will melt and remove it quickly without any other actions

When spread on top of ice or snow, salt begins to melt the surrounding ice. As it melts the ice, it forms a pool of salty water which helps to melt the surrounding ice. Without any traffic to move the salt and salty water around and mix it into the thawing ice, the melting process can take a long time.

Where snow falls on top of salt then it begins to melt the snow from beneath. Again, road traffic will speed up this process. However the first vehicles over the snow will actually compress the snow into ice in much the same way as a snowball is created. If there is little traffic, or very slow moving traffic, then a layer of ice may form on top of the road until the salt works its way up from below.