How Aberdeen City Council is planning this year’s roads, pavements and cycleways winter maintenance

A stockpile of 11,726tonnes of salt, 90 staff, half of the city’s roads treated before 7.30am, and a trial of a multi-purpose small gritter on a cycleway are just some of the ways Aberdeen City Council is prioritising this year’s winter maintenance.

The City Council today launched its 2017/18 winter maintenance campaign including outlining priorities for gritting roads and pavements, details of planned operations and how much grit/salt is in stock.

The local authority’s budget for winter and emergencies is £1.727 million - that sum might not be all used, or can go over, depending on the severity of the winter. early Morning and standby gritting operations are from 13 November to 19 March although gritters have been out several times in the last couple of weeks with the colder nights. The end date will be extended if road conditions and forecasts are showing wintry weather.

Almost half (47%) of Aberdeen’s roads are treated before 7.30am, with 560 miles of roads in the city, slightly more than the distance from Aberdeen to London. Weather forecasts are closely monitored throughout the day and night, and gritters and ploughs can be out 24/7.

Aberdeen City Council transport spokesman Councillor Ross Grant said: “We hope it won’t be a severe winter this year but you never know in Scotland. Our staff and equipment are ready for winter and are as prepared as they can be.

“Our dedicated staff do their best under winter conditions, and often go above and beyond their duty to help people.

“Aberdeen City Council wants to keep roads open and residents safe and we also want to help people to help themselves so our website (http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/winter/) has up-to-date information including weather forecasts and live information about where gritters have been out which can help with journey planning.

“We can also provide 1tonne grit bags free for communities to use which are easier to use than grit bins.

“With almost half of the city’s roads treated before 7.30am when most people are getting up and ready for their day ahead, it means they have been treated before folk set out for work or school in the morning.”

The priority one (P1) roads which are treated first are the main transport routes through the city which include major bus routes and public service/emergency facilities. The priority one routes make up almost half of Aberdeen’s roads network, and are never impassable unless there are abnormal conditions. The routes are pre-treated, and there is 24/7 availability of equipment/crews. The 10 priority one routes can be viewed on Aberdeen City Council’s winter maintenance section of the website.

The priority 2 roads are significant through-routes not in P1, some part of P1 routes, only treated once P1/2 routes are open to traffic, and area response as and when required.

The priority 3 roads are all other routes which are not normally treated unless emergency vehicles require access, there is an exceptional depth of snow, for a medical emergency or funeral, and P1/2 routes are open to traffic.

The priority 1 pavements are in the city centre, and get high usage, and include two routes. The priority 2 pavements include all other footways which are treated on area basis, with a priority given to high usage and public facilities or access. Cycleways are treated as priority 2 footways. A multi-purpose small gritter is to be trialled this year on the cycleway/pavement between Lang Stracht and Kingswells.

Aberdeen City Council resources include:

  • 90 staff;

  • Seven dedicated carriageway gritters;

  • 14 demountable carriageway gritters;

  • Four large gritters;

  • 19 footway gritters;

  • De-icer applicator vehicle;

  • 11,726tonnes of salt in stock (no grit is used although the vehicles are still called gritters).

For operations, Aberdeen City Council has a robust plan which also ensures the authority and drivers comply with legislation. This includes:

The Aberdeen City Council winter maintenance website can be found at http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/winter/

  • Health and Safety – all drivers trained to SVQ level and refreshed. Radio communication. Compliant equipment.

  • Drivers’ Hours- maximum of 10 hours driving

  • Working Time Directive – must allow 1 days rest per week or 2 days per fortnight

  • Needs minimum of 3 drivers per route to provide compliant rota

  • Capability to cover 4 routes at any time of day or night using the response squad.

  • Augmented through the night and at weekends by sufficient standby staff to cover 10 priority carriageway routes and 2 footway routes

  • Early morning starts to cover 10 priority carriageway routes.

There are 900 grit bins around the city which get high usage but are subject to theft. They are difficult to service and require high labour and plant input, so a better alternative for communities is the free delivery of 1 tonne grit bags. These are delivered free of charge prior to winter, bags are replaced as necessary, and are removed at the end of winter.