Training of gritter drivers and testing of new routes taking place

Gritters can be spotted out and about on the city’s roads from Monday as new drivers go through their training and new routes are tested.

Aberdeen City Council’s early morning and standby gritting operations start on 11 November however people require to be trained before then.

The testing is part of the council’s winter maintenance programme which involves a stockpile of 12,000tonnes of salt, almost 180 staff, and almost half of the city’s roads treated before 7.30am.

Weather forecasts are closely monitored throughout the day and night, and gritters and ploughs can be out 24/7 and, for the first time, residents will be able to track road gritters as they drive around the city. Early morning and standby gritting operations start will run through to 15 March, and operations will be extended depending on road conditions and if forecasts are showing wintry weather.

Aberdeen City Council vehicles include eight dedicated road gritters with snow plough attachments, 14 demountable road gritters with snow plough attachments, 21 pavement gritters with snow plough attachments, a de-icer applicator vehicle. De-icing fluid is only used if temperatures drop low enough to stop salt working.

Almost half (47%) of Aberdeen’s roads will be treated before 7.30am under the plans, with 590 miles of roads in the city - more than the distance from Aberdeen to London. This year, 44 miles of additional roads have been added to the City’s Council network as the opening of the AWPR led to some city roads being detrunked.

Aberdeen City Council transport spokesperson Councillor Sandra Macdonald said: “Our winter maintenance operation requires months of pre-planning to ensure drivers, machinery and routes are at their optimum, and this year needed even more due to the additional miles on the road network.

“While it may look at a bit odd to people that our gritters are out while it’s quite warm and sunny, these dry runs are essential to ensure everything runs smoothly when it does turn cold and wintry.

“We cannot be everywhere around the city at the same time so we’d ask residents to be prepared themselves for their own journeys, and they can also apply for a free one tonne community salt bag for using on their own streets and pavements.

“We want to keep roads open and residents safe and I’d encourage people to look up information on our website at www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/winter, keep a close check on weather forecasts, plan appropriately, ensuring they have the right equipment for their journeys, adhere to police and travel advice, and have an alternative plan for transport or their working day if possible.”

Roads and pavements in the city are prioritised for gritting according to their need.

The primary routes which are treated first are the main transport routes through the city and include major bus routes, roads at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, and roads near fire stations. The primary routes make up almost half of Aberdeen’s roads network, and are never impassable unless there are abnormal conditions. These are gritted early morning from 4.45am to 7am as the early morning gritting operations, to ensure they are salted before rush hour.

The primary routes are pre-treated and there is 24/7 availability of equipment and crews. The 10 primary routes can be viewed at www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/winter.

The secondary routes comprise significant through-routes in communities and are treated only once the primary roads are open to traffic. Roads that carry medium traffic flows or give access to community or public facilities of a non-urgent nature and secondary routes on higher ground are usually a priority.

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.

The other roads are all other routes which are not normally treated unless emergency vehicles require access, there is a medical emergency or funeral, and they include minor roads where road users can make their way to the nearest higher priority route, local access roads and cul-de-sacs. The other roads are only gritted after the primary and secondary routes are open to traffic and it should be noted experience has shown primary and secondary routes are usually the only routes which are gritted during periods of bad weather.

The priority 1 pavements, which are highly used, are in the city centre and include two routes. The other 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.

For the second year running, large community salt bins are at 20 locations around the city with more locations to be confirmed. In addition, residents are encouraged to apply for a one-tonne community salt bag before the cut-off date of 1 November and there are also about 900 grit bins around the city for residents’ use.

More information can be found at www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/winter.