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Transport and Roads

Winter and gritting FAQs

How do Gritters spread the salt?

Rock salt is sprayed out of the back of gritters by a spinning device, usually symmetrically along the width of the gritter.

The rate and speed of spraying is controlled by an electronic system in the cab of the gritter. This allows the driver to use different settings and information is fed back to the driver via an LCD screen in the cab. Our drivers are trained to use this system to adjust the width and the angle of delivery according to the kind of road and the conditions. A gritter will have the beacons flashing when it is spraying grit.

If you find yourself behind a gritter please keep well back, be patient and do not overtake unless necessary and safe to do so.

Why do Bradford Metropolitan District Council grit the roads?

We grit and salt the roads to assist the safe movement of traffic during winter conditions. However it is not possible to provide this service on all parts of the road network or to guarantee that surfaces are kept free of ice and snow at all times, even on the treated part of the network.

When will you start gritting the roads?

Our team is put on standby from the start of November to the last week of March. Using information about the weather and road conditions from a number of sources (the Met Office, road sensors and visual inspections of road conditions) our Highways engineers will decide whether to take action and grit.

Why are the roads not gritted when I can see there has been a frost on my car?

We take action when road surface temperatures are at or below freezing. Roads retain heat and do not cool as quickly, so frost on a car can be misleading. Gritting will usually take place when temperatures are forecast to reach 0°C or below and there is likely to be water present to form ice.

How do I know which roads will be gritted?

The network of roads that we treat and grit is shown on the pages below:

What do you use to grit?

We usually use rock salt which is mined. This looks red/ orange in colour due to dirt and natural impurities in the salt.

How do you grit?

We don’t often use ‘Grit’ – we use rocksalt. To be most effective, salt should be spread onto the road surface before the road becomes icy or snow starts to fall. This is known as precautionary salting.

It takes the gritters approximately three hours to spread salt on the main gritting routes. So we aim for the gritters to set off before sub zero or snowy weather is forecast to arrive. This will often be done in the evening or early morning and so you may not see gritters working. It may not be obvious that gritting has been done as to work properly, the salt has to dissolve to form a salty solution on the road – and as such is not clearly visible.

It is more difficult to start treatment early enough when rain is forecast to continue right up to the time of freezing or rain is forecast to turn to snow. The gritters must wait until the rain has stopped or the salt will be washed away and have no effect.

So in that sort of weather it may not be possible to spread salt on all of the roads included in the gritting routes before the rain freezes or the snow starts to settle.

What happens when it snows?

We still try to grit to slow the rate of snow settling and to prevent snow ‘sticking’ to the road. We apply more salt when it is snowing, to prevent compacted snow forming ice. But if the snow starts to settle the salt will have much less effect and if the snow becomes deeper it will have virtually no effect. In these circumstances we have to plough and use a combination of snow ploughing and gritting to clear the roads.

What causes delays or problems for gritting?

Parked vehicles can stop our large gritters from accessing some roads. Remember, gritter drivers are alone, and may well be working in the very dark early morning and in very poor weather / visibility. The gritters are large vehicles and cannot easily reverse and so vehicles are that are stuck or badly parked on roads can cause problems for access – resulting in some streets becoming inaccessible to gritters.

Also if the gritting has to take place at busy periods, e.g. rush hour on a morning or evening this can slow things down and the gritters may become stuck in traffic.

Can I clear the path/road in front of my property and someone has an accident?

Advice on this issue is available on the GOV.UK website.

When clearing snow and ice take care not to make things worse by using water or other liquids that could refreeze.

Can I ask for a road to be gritted?

During prolonged adverse weather, and once the priority routes are clear, we will try to move onto non-priority routes if we are able to and would look at these requests if appropriate.

At the end of the gritting period analysis is made of gritting requests over the season when the routes are agreed for the next season. However please note that Bradford currently treats over 70% of our network length. This compares to an Audit Commission recommendation that authorities should treat approximately 25% of their network. So we do far more than double that and actually our percentage treated network is amongst the highest in the country. As such it is difficult to add extra lengths as we are already stretched during severe conditions.

Can I call into a Council depot to collect grit?

No. We are not able to supply grit to people visiting Council depots. You can buy grit from most DIY stores. If you can’t get hold of grit try some sharp sand to help with grip on icy paths or driveways.

Why don’t you use an alternative to salt, like the airports do to clean runways?

Other chemicals (e.g. de-icers) are available on the market but these can cost up to 20 times more than salt and are not always as effective.

Why is my cul-de-sac not gritted regularly?

The gritting routes have been carefully designed and adapted to ensure that we grit the primary, main routes within Bradford. These include bus routes and heavily trafficked routes. The routes have been designed to cover as much of the network as possible within our resources. During snow conditions resources are targeted to the areas of greatest need. Cul de sacs do not carry through traffic and problems can often occur with parked cars or the gritters cannot get access to reverse out.

What if I need medical assistance and can’t get out of my house due to bad weather?

If we receive a request from the ambulance service or police for emergency assistance this will be passed to our teams who will assist as soon as practicable.

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