Gritting to continue over Christmas

DEVON County Council is preparing for a long haul of tackling icy roads over the Christmas period.

DEVON County Council is preparing for a long haul of tackling icy roads over the Christmas period.

Temperatures dropped to around -4 again overnight, with the lowest temperature -5.2 in Exebridge, and roads across the county continue to be icy today as temperatures struggle to rise above freezing.

Gritters treated 2,000 miles of the county's roads, on primary and secondary salting routes, twice overnight and again in the early hours of today. But following heavy rain showers in some areas this morning, ice has formed immediately, even on treated roads.

Teams have been out again throughout the morning, dealing with Devon's primary and secondary salting routes and town centres. Grit bins are also being replenished across the county so that communities can salt roads and pavements which the County Council cannot treat.

It is forecast that Devon may not experience warmer weather until 28 or 29 December, and Devon County Council has ordered an additional 4,500 tonnes of salt to arrive next week to meet the demand being placed on its fleet of 48 frontline gritters and 36 backup gritters.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: "It looks as though this latest cold snap will be with us for a few more days so our teams will continue with their gritting regime as they have over the past week. We appreciate that this is a busy time of year with people travelling on Devon's roads to visit friends and family, and I can assure everyone that we will continue to do our utmost to keep main and secondary roads as safe and clear as possible. We want to ensure everyone has a safe and peaceful Christmas, and I thank the dedication of our highways staff and our contractor SWH, at this time of year."

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The County's Highway Operations and Control Centre, which is staffed 24 hours a day, every day of the year, will also be manned with additional staff over the Christmas period as the big freeze continues. Temperatures are expected to reach -2 this evening.

Chris Cranston, Devon County Council's Highway Operations Manager, said: "We again have rain falling on freezing roads today which is forming ice straight away, despite the presence of salt on our major routes. Our priority is to treat our main and secondary routes as a priority as that keeps 80% of traffic moving, but we have to remind people that resources are stretched and we are not able to salt the vast network of minor and residential estate roads. Daytime temperatures will be getting warmer but we're preparing for the long haul in dealing with these freezing conditions over Christmas. While conditions remain treacherous, please avoid driving overnight, when worst conditions occur."

Devon County Council is responsible for 8,000 miles of roads - the biggest network of any local authority in the country. The County Council has already used more than 6,500 tonnes this winter, since 30 November, but it has stocks of more than 13,000 tonnes of salt remaining.