Gritting On Roads Scaled Back Due To Shortages of Rock Salt

PUBLISHED: 10:09 13 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:43 04 May 2010

GRITTING roads in Cambridgeshire has been scaled back again because of a national rationing system for new supplies of rock salt that means deliveries expected by the county council may be diverted to other highway authorities. The county will now grit on

GRITTING roads in Cambridgeshire has been scaled back again because of a national rationing system for new supplies of rock salt that means deliveries expected by the county council may be diverted to other highway authorities.

The county will now grit only A-roads, priority B-roads, waterside roads and access to hospitals. "This will continue until sufficient new deliveries of rocksalt can be secured," a spokesman said.

The council would not comment on reports that the crisis had been caused by salt supplies being diverted to the Highways Agency, which had ordered inadequate salt for a prolonged campaign of keep the strategic network, including the A14 and motorways, open.

CCC is set to post lists of roads it is still being gritted and those it can no longer treat on its website, www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk.

And it warned motorists to beware of potholes developing as frost and then melting snow damaged road surfaces and sub-structures.

"We know there's damage, but we shalln't know the extent till it all melts," the spokesman said.

There are only two national suppliers of rock salt trying to meet the needs of authorities across the country, and sources in other countries are also being used.

"The county council, like all other authorities, is now part of a new national system that has just been set up to make sure authorities that are running low are prioritised. This means that deliveries that would normally come to Cambridgeshire are being sent to councils that have nearly run out."

This has been a record year for Cambridgeshire's gritting operation. So far the council's fleet of 36 gritters has been out 67 times since October, more than double the number of times at this point last year and matching the most the council has ever gritted in a year.

In the first week of February gritters were out 12 times, with dedicated crews driving and filling the gritters working around the clock.

Having already started earlier than ever before, Cambridgeshire has put more than 12,000 tonnes of salt on the roads and has spent already more than £1.3 million to grit this year.

"Because of the national shortage, gritting had been carried out on the normal routes but not the secondary ones, which are only usually done in emergency or prolonged periods of bad weather," the county said. "This means that cycle routes and paths are not being gritted, unless next to a gritted road. This is to avoid running stocks down so low that it would impact on gritting the roads countywide.

"The council has written to the Department for Transport encouraging a national review, including finding better ways to make sure salt supplies do not run this low again and to look at the very important issue of gritting cycleways and paths."

CCC is constantly monitoring its rock salt stocks and actively looking for new supplies, it added.

Mark Kemp, the council's director of highways and access, said: "Like the almost every authority across the country, we are having to manage our rock salt stocks carefully so that we can grit as much as possible.

"A new system has been put in place where the limited deliveries we were getting are now going to more badly-hit authorities. This means we can no longer rely on those deliveries and have to prioritise the routes we do to make sure we have enough salt to keep people on the move while at the same time last until we get more stocks.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “The Highways Agency is not seeking, nor receiving, preferential treatment from the salt suppliers.

“We have not been caught out by the severe weather. We have tried and tested plans in place for ice and snow and we were will prepared."

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