With temperatures tumbling this week, Devon is prepared and ready to cope with the challenges of winter on the county’s roads.
Road surface temperatures are forecast to drop below -2C in some parts of Devon tonight and gritters will be out on all of the county’s primary salting routes from 6pm this evening.
The County Council is starting the season with its gritting depots fully stocked with the usual amount of around 24,000 tonnes of salt.
Six gritters have been replaced with newer models to continue the ongoing upgrade of the authority’s winter fleet of 37 frontline gritters. To ensure resilience of staffing numbers, three gritter drivers per route will be on standby as per usual.
The County Council launched its new Network Operations Control Centre in Sowton, Exeter, last year to improve the monitoring of Devon’s roads 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The centre enables parts of Devon’s highway network to be monitored remotely by using CCTV, weather information, traffic and congestion data. It is also able to control a range of Intelligent Transport Systems – such as variable message signs.
The systems at the control centre link to the county’s network of ice detector weather stations at strategic locations across the county. Three new sites have been added ahead of this winter, increasing the network to 38 stations in total. Six of the existing stations have also been upgraded.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “We always ensure that our winter service operations are prepared and resilient, and this year is no different. We’re starting the season with the usual amount of salt and the same number of gritter drivers on standby. We’ve also continued to upgrade vehicles and equipment to help keep Devon moving.
“The new control centre has had a year to bed in as it makes use of up-to-date web-based systems. This enables our teams to have the flexibility to call on additional support from staff working remotely should it be necessary.
“With an 8,000 mile highway network, we have more roads to look after than any authority in the country, so it’s impossible for us to salt every mile. Our teams are standing by to treat around 2,000 miles of Devon’s main roads on our primary and secondary salting network when it’s needed. And we saw last winter the vital support role that our volunteer snow wardens play in their local communities.”
Last winter, around 18,000 tonnes of salt were used on Devon’s roads – treating more than 136,000 miles of the county. That’s above the average winter figure of around 13,000 tonnes of salt, and twice the amount used in each of the two previous winters.
More than 3,500 grit bins are located across Devon to support community self-help on roads which are not on the gritting network. These supplies must only be used on the public highway. Empty grit bins can be reported via the Council’s “Report It” webpages.
Devon’s volunteer snow warden scheme celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this year, and there are currently around 325 volunteer snow wardens in towns and parishes throughout Devon. Snow wardens provide additional support for their communities as part of the Council’s winter self-help scheme, treating their priority routes during spells of prolonged spells of severe weather.
Find out more about Devon’s snow warden scheme on the County Council's communities webpages or contact Parish Council representatives who can liaise with their local Neighbourhood Highway Officer.
More information and winter travel advice from Devon County Council is available on our winter travel webpages or for updates on Twitter follow @DevonAlert