We grit local roads throughout the winter months to make sure that travel along highways is not endangered by snow or ice.
It's not possible to treat the entire highway network or to keep treated parts completely clear at all times.
This has answers some frequently asked questions about winter maintenance, gritting and how we make best use of our resources.
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Where do we grit?
Our gritting routes cover more than 180 miles of adopted highway and include major A and B roads, designated access routes into most villages, main routes to GP surgeries, hospitals and schools.
These are Rutland’s ‘priority routes’ and have been agreed by Cabinet.
During periods of extreme weather, treatment of other locations is determined by prioritising requests from the police and residents, provided that resources are available. The defined precautionary routes will always take priority and the target time for treating the network is four hours.
When do we grit?
We have access to a dedicated winter forecasting service that predicts the possibility of freezing road temperatures, snow and ice and advises us when these conditions are likely to occur.
Daily decisions on winter maintenance are made depending on the forecast. Gritting is only effective in certain conditions and won't necessarily take place when the temperature falls below zero. This may be due to dry road surface conditions, (moisture is required to turn the salt into a solution) or when residual salt levels on the road surface are sufficient to deal with the expected conditions.
Who grits and clears the highways?
Gritting is carried out by our chosen contractor using their own vehicles. In addition, during extreme weather, street cleaning and grounds maintenance staff will be used to clear snow from footways. Farmers are contracted to clear snow from carriageways as directed.
Snow ploughing usually starts when 50mm of snow has fallen and snow continues to fall.
Our aim is to clear all priority routes of snow as soon as conditions permit and clearance work will then continue as necessary.
Why don’t we grit your road?
Not all roads can be gritted because we need to focus our resources on priority routes which cover:
- Major roads (A and B roads)
- Designated access routes into villages
- Main routes to doctors’ surgeries
- The hospital and schools
We also train Volunteer Snow Wardens who are nominated by Town and Parish Councils to help clear snow and ice where they live.
Can we add your road to our gritting routes?
Our Cabinet conducts a review of Rutland’s priority gritting routes each year, based on the resources we have available and the areas where need is greatest.
You can request for your road to be considered as part of the next review by emailing: Highways@rutland.gov.uk
Do we grit footpaths and cycleways?
Footways aren't normally treated as a precaution. However, when snow is forecast, gritting will be carried out on the main footways in Oakham and Uppingham town centre areas.
Where resources are available, treatment of other footways will take place on a priority basis – for example, areas with high numbers of vulnerable residents.
Cycleways are not treated.
Do you provide grit bins?
Around 240 grit bins are currently provided to Town and Parish Councils and are restocked with salt at their request.
These bins are provided so that residents themselves can spread salt, when necessary.
The salt in these bins is for use on the highway only and not for use on private driveways.
Can I clear snow and ice from the pavement outside my property?
Yes. You can clear snow and ice from pavements yourself. It is unlikely you would be held responsible if someone is injured on a path or pavement if you have cleared it carefully.
Please see the latest government advice for clearing snow from a road, path or cycleway.
What is grit?
Grit is actually rock salt. We spread it on the road at rates from 8 grams per square metre when frost is forecast up to 40 grams per square metre in the event of snow or prolonged icy conditions.
Rock salt is most effective when it becomes a solution, which is why the gritting process relies on cars and other vehicles crushing the salt into the road to be effective. This forms a de-icing solution which stops water freezing until the temperature reaches -6ºC to -8ºC.
How much grit does the Council have stockpiled for winter?
Grit or rock salt is currently stored at our Ashwell depot, which has a capacity of about 5,000 tonnes.
A minimum of 4,000 tonnes of salt is held in stock at the start of winter.