Residents warned of icy conditions for the next few days

City residents were today warned the current icy conditions on many roads and pavements were likely to continue this week despite gritting teams being out at full capacity.

The weather is forecast to remain cold and road surface temperatures will likely remain below 0degC even during the day – road surface temperatures are usually lower than air temperatures. There is no rain forecast until Thursday.

The last 10 days have been challenging due to the constant freeze/thaw effect across the North-east whereby because the temperatures are hovering above or below zero, rain is falling and freezing over where road temperatures are cold, and then thawing, washing away the salt that had been laid previously.

To put this into context, in the last two weeks, the City Council has used up more than 50% of the total salt used last winter. We used around 5,500 tonnes of salt for the whole winter period of 2019/2020, and during the two-week festive period we used 2,800tonnes. Our gritting teams have been working to full capacity around the clock during this period.

At the start of the year, we were sitting at 13,000tonnes of salt in stock, and we have placed an order for 5,000t to top up our current stocks which will be arriving by boat in about three weeks.

Today, the primary routes (the main roads which are about 50% of the city’s roads network) and priority 1 pavements were gritted first from 4.45am, followed by secondary routes and priority 2 pavements from about 7.30am. The primary routes and priority 1 pavements are being gritted again this afternoon, and will be gritted again tomorrow morning from 4.45am. Work will continue tomorrow gritting the secondary routes and priority 2 pavements.

Unfortunately, the entire roads network of 560 miles and 1,242 miles of pavements cannot all be gritted at the same time, so gritting is prioritised.

The primary routes and priority 1 pavements (Union Street and surrounding streets) are gritted usually at this time of year from 4.45am to 7.30am.

The secondary routes include roads near sheltered housing and social work properties, near schools where possible, cemeteries and crematoria, shopping centres, and access to facilities in parks and gardens. These are started after the primary routes have been completed, which is at about 7.30am.

The priority 2 pavements near ARI, schools (usually), sheltered housing and social work properties, cemeteries & crematoria, shopping centres, and parks & gardens are gritted in the morning after the main pavements.

Other routes include local access roads, cul-de-sacs, and residential roads and are gritted only once primary and secondary routes are completed - primary and secondary routes are usually the only routes gritted during periods of bad weather as they need to be continually gritted. Other pavements are not usually gritted as priority 1 and priority 2 pavements usually need to be continually gritted.

Further information about how roads and pavements are prioritised for gritting including maps of the routes can be found at www.aberdeencity.gov.uk.

Although we have a plentiful supply of salt and more on the way, grit bins across the city have been virtually emptied through personal and communal use during this time and so we have drafted in additional staff resources today to replenish these as a priority. It should be emphasised empty salt bins are an inconvenience to residents so we’d ask people not to use council salt supplies for their own household pavements or driveways.

Aberdeen City Council transport spokesperson Councillor Sandra Macdonald said: “Our staff go above and beyond to ensure the city’s key roads and pavements are gritted in line with the agreed priority routes.

“Unfortunately, we cannot grit every road and pavement around the city at the same time so we are asking residents to be understanding, to salt local roads and pavements if they are able to do so, and to check on vulnerable neighbours during this particularly challenging time with Covid-19. Those people who have been hardest hit can also get assistance through the council’s dedicated and free phone number at 0800 0304 713.

“The last 10 days have been challenging for our crews with the continuous freeze-thaw effects we’ve experienced however we are using all our available gritting staff resources to us to do as much as we can before it rains again - this is due to happen again on Thursday.”

There are also several ways people can be community-minded and salt roads and pavements if they are not on a main route. There are currently more than 900 salt bins throughout the city and there are 20 large capacity grit bins from which the public can collect salt in locations such as supermarket or community centre car parks. The locations of these can be found at Find a community salt bin | Aberdeen City Council.