With a fleet of 28 front-line gritters at their disposal, including five brand new machines, winter services staff have been preparing for months to keep roads safe and clear over the colder period.
As the Beast from the East showed last winter, battling the elements during the worst weather is a 24/7 job. To keep the gritters active across Northumberland’s 3,000 miles of road, the council has invested in 37,500 tonnes of rock salt, filling the depots to capacity.
Safety for the drivers is paramount, and all gritters are fitted with tracking devices so their location can be pinpointed at all times - providing an extra level of safety, especially for those working in more rural areas.
Leading the team are three experienced, specialist winter service managers and decision makers who monitor all forecast weather and weather stations round-the-clock and co-ordinate operations across the county.
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Of course, keeping the region moving is all about teamwork. The council has arrangements in place with all neighbouring authorities to ensure continuity between area boundaries.
It also now salts the entire length of the A69 from Newcastle to the M6 in Cumbria and completes the weather forecasting and decision making for Newcastle City Council’s winter services operation.
And if things get really bad the council can also call on farmers and sub-contractors should they be needed.
Coun Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services, said: “We have a professional and very experienced team of staff who will be keeping our road network safe this winter. With more than 3,000 miles of roads to cover this can be a round-the-clock job and I’m extremely proud of the dedication our staff have.
“We’ve seen in the past year how extreme the weather can be in our region but we’re confident we have the technology and people available to to tackle whatever is thrown at them.”