Gritters working around the clock

GRITTERS will be salting Sidmouth s roads tonight as the big freeze hits Devon. Devon County Highways are already out and about treating 1,650 miles on the County s salting network and the County Council s white out fleet are on high alert and are prepa

GRITTERS will be salting Sidmouth's roads tonight as the big freeze hits Devon.

Devon County Highways are already out and about treating 1,650 miles on the County's salting network and the County Council's "white out" fleet are on high alert and are prepared to be mobilised overnight if ploughs are needed to clear roads.

Freezing temperatures combined with snow and wintry showers mean that all of the county's 48 salting routes, 20 per cent of Devon's road network, will be treated. Road temperatures have barely got above zero Celsius today and they are expected to drop to as low as -4.6 in Yarcombe in East Devon overnight.

Work has been on-going to re-open the A3052, between the B3176 and Woolbrook Road, after it was closed at 10:30pm on Sunday evening due to ice on the road.

Gritters headed out at 2:45pm this afternoon with 360 tonnes of salt for the salting network. They will then treat secondary routes to try and salt roads into major hamlets. A repeat coverage of the main network will be carried out at midnight across the county, except in South Devon where it will be at 3am. A further inspection will then be carried out at 4am tomorrow morning and right the way through to the rush hour to see if further action is needed.

Councillor Margaret Rogers, Devon County Council Executive Member for Environment, said: "Our highways teams are being kept busy by the current cold spell, already surpassing the amount of call outs and salt used for the whole of last winter, and I would like to thank them for their efforts and dedication. They are again preparing for heavy snow and are currently working to ensure the county's road network is clear, but drivers must never assume that a road has been salted."

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Chris Cranston, Devon County Council's Highway Operations Control Centre Manager, said: "Heavy snow overnight could see snow laying on roads overnight, which could provide challenging conditions on the network in the morning until traffic gets going. The whole of the county is expected to be affected but forecasters are predicting the north of the county to bear the brunt. We are doing the best that we can in some of the most difficult conditions we have experienced in years and we would urge people to drive with care."

Extra staff have been deployed in the County's Highway Operations and Control Centre, which is staffed 24 hours a day, every day of the year, to co-ordinate work on the highway network. It is fully equipped to monitor how the weather is affecting the road and uses state-of-the-art technology including radar and satellite images, and a network of roadside ice detectors to provide information on road conditions.

Devon County Council is responsible for 8,000 miles of roads - the biggest network of any local authority in the country. Around 11,000 tonnes of salt has been used on the County's salting network from the first treatment on 27 October to the end of January. That already exceeds more than the whole of last winter.

Motorists are being reminded of the following advice:

� Avoid overnight travel unless absolutely essential as roads will always be more hazardous at night with less traffic and colder temperatures;

� Never assume a road has been salted - remember that showers or rain will wash salt off roads leaving them prone to ice. In very cold weather even salting will not stop ice from forming;

� Allow extra time for your journey and reduce your speed;

� Drive with care and according to the conditions.

For information on winter driving conditions see: