29 January 2021

Northamptonshire Highways is on standby to grit the county's roads from October to April during periods of snow and ice.

The 24 hour snow desk was open last  weekend following the severe weather alert and remained open until temperatures rose and any risk had passed.

The snow desk allows for temperatures to be continuously monitored and allows us to make quick, reactive decisions and mobilise the crews and any additional resource. The gritter drivers are also in constant communication with the snow desk reporting back on any issues we need to address.

The County Council treats Northamptonshire's roads to keep them open and safe to ensure road users can travel with a minimum of delay and disruption. The council uses weather stations and sensors along Northamptonshire's roads to return temperature readings every 15 minutes and weather forecasts every hour.

The gritting team first left depots at 5:00pm on Saturday, 23 January to salt the precautionary routes, 43% of the road network. Northamptonshire has one of the UK's longest gritting routes in the country and every parish in the county has a gritted route in and out to ensure villages remain connected. Roads are gritted when forecasts predict temperatures falling below 0.5°C.

The crews work out of depots in Wellingborough, Brixworth, and Towcester. A total of 1,157 miles of A and B roads are treated by 20 gritting lorries and each run takes approximately four hours.

This year, routes have been extended to include access roads to Covid -19 vaccine centres.

The crews were out again on Sunday morning at 5:00am to ensure there was plenty of salt on the roads. The message remains ‘Stay safe and stay home’ and to only make essential journeys and drive according to the conditions. This does mean that roads are quieter and the salt takes longer to work. Salt requires the movement of vehicles to activate it.

Northamptonshire Highways left the depots again at 9:00am on Monday morning to treat the adverse network as the forecast shows temperatures will remain very low and not rise above zero for the next 48 hours. This route adds an additional 255 miles.

County Council Cabinet Member for Highways Jason Smithers said:


“The winter team, supported by our supply chain, has been working throughout the weekend keeping the county moving. We are urging people to only make essential journeys and remember that you should never assume a road is gritted and drive according to the conditions.

"Many rural roads will not be treated and even when a road has received a gritting treatment, the salt requires activation from the movement of vehicles. Because a road has been gritted, it does not mean that all risk of accident has been eliminated.

"It is vitally important we treat our roads to allow people to make essential journeys and for critical supplies to get to hospital and shops.”

A total of 1,500 grit bins have been filled and are for public use to keep public roads and pavements clear but the salt is not intended for use on private drives. Please report bins that need refilling via our Street Doctor service.

Motorways and trunk roads — the M1 and M45, the A14, and parts of A45, A5 and A43 in the county — are gritted by Highways England who were also out over the weekend.