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Grit bins and salt routes

Winter policies and processes

Our winter arrangements start on 29 October and run until 31 March. We do extend these times from time to time should the prevailing weather necessitate this.

Our experts make informed decisions based on detailed weather forecasts on a daily basis throughout the winter. We received detailed forecasts for the next 24 hours and for the subsequent four days. Together with this we assess temperature profiles and relative risk of ice or snow in areas of South Gloucestershire.

You can keep up to date by by liking our StreetCare Facebook page or following us on Twitter @sgloscouncil or search #SouthGlosGritting. #GritterTwitter is also used but this can include posts from other councils.

More information on our gritting service is available in our Winter Service FAQs and you can read advice from the Met Office on driving in severe weather conditions.

Priority routes

We aim to maintain highways when faced with winter conditions so that they can be used with reasonable care. Our priority routes reflect a route hierarchy that reflects the relative importance of the various routes. This takes into account traffic volumes, links to schools, hospitals, shopping areas, villages and major business areas

The routes will salt on a precautionary basis ahead of a risk of ice represent approximately 30% of our road network.

In heavy snowfall we may not be able to clear all routes so will concentrate on the primary network such as the A4174, A420 A46 and A38. Our priority will be to clear the above routes and then work down the hierarchy and gradually reach our full priority network.

You can view gritter routes via Elgin’s roadworks website. Enter your postcode and then choose the drop down menu options “Map layers”, “Driver Information” and select “Winter gritting routes”. You can also now view a map of gritted routes for areas in South Gloucestershire.

Our Gritters

All gritters have speed regulators when spreading which means they cannot go above 30mph. This allows the correct rate of spread for the salt. The salt is distributed through  ‘low throw’ spinners that keeps it on a low trajectory and optimizes spread and keeps salt away from windscreens as much as possible. different rates of spread will be needed in different weather conditions.

Grit Bins

On other routes where there are potential hazards, we place a limited number of grit bins or heaps of salt/grit mixture that members of the public can use. The grit is for anyone to use on roads and pavements.

Motorways and Trunk Roads

Please note that we are not responsible for motorway and trunk roads. These are maintained by the Highways Agency. This includes M4/M5/M32 and A46 south of the M4

Footpaths and cyclepaths

We spread salt manually on some town centre pedestrian areas and some of the busier sections of cycle routes. The common criteria for including footway action will be:

  • surface temperatures below -2C on forecast, and
  • significant additional risk of urban footways icing up e.g. very wet, hoar frost
  • significant risk of freezing rain/snow likely to be lying on the ground during busy daytime periods

Areas covered are:

  • Broad Street High Street Chipping Sodbury
  • High Street Thornbury
  • Badminton road Downend
  • Regent Street Kingswood
  • Broad Street High Street Staple Hill
  • High Street Hanham
  • Bristol-Bath railway path (Mangotsfield to Bristol boundary)
  • New road shared used path to Abbeywood Roundabout along the ring road to Shortwood and linking to the railway path at Mangotsfield station

Town centre paths are treated manually, the cycle routes have a small spreader mounted on a small tractor. We endeavour to treat routes before ice forms whilst being mindful of periods of busy pedestrian and cycle usage

Gritting facts and myths

Myth: Once a gritter has put salt on the road all ice will melt.

Fact: This is not true. Spreading salt on the road is only the start of the de-icing process. Movement of salt around the road by traffic is essential to complete the process. Overnight, when traffic levels are low, roads can remain icy for some time. Cars/lorries help the process more than pedestrian and cycle traffic.

Myth: Spreading salt on fresh snow will not melt it more quickly.

Fact: The most effective treatment is to remove the fresh snow before applying salt. We fit snow ploughs on our gritters to remove the snow before we treat. When spread on top of ice or snow, each grain will begin to melt the surrounding ice working its way outwards. As it melts the ice, it forms a pool of salty water, which in turn helps to melt the surrounding ice and so on. Without any traffic to move the salt and salty water around and mix it into the thawing ice, the melting process can take some considerable time.

Where snow falls on top of salt then it begins to melt the snow from beneath. Again vehicular movements will speed up this process. However the first vehicles over the snow will actually compress the snow into ice in much the same way as a snowball is created. If there is little traffic, or very slow moving traffic, then a layer of ice may form on top of the road until the salt works its way up from below.

If you are considering spreading salt on footways it is much more effective if you shovel or brush away the snow first and then apply the salt.

Myth: Salt will always melt snow

Fact: When spreading at temperatures of -7 degrees centigrade, salt in solid form enters a solution at a low rate and is less effective. Even when salt is spread at between minus 5 and minus 7 degrees centigrade it is not considered effective, once temperatures reach minus 15 degrees centigrade or over 40mm deep salt is not effective. To deal with snow we would plough and use layers of grit to minimize the risk to the travelling public.

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