LANCASHIRE’S gritters are preparing to keep the county moving following forecasts of snow for the region on Friday.
Gritting crews have already been busy since a cold snap started last week, salting as a precaution in the evenings and sometimes patrolling throughout the night to deal with changeable conditions.
They’re now getting ready to keep the main routes clear in response to an alert from the Met Office that a band of snow could produce flurries overnight and more substantially affect Lancashire from mid-morning on Friday.
County Councillor Tim Ashton, Cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Our crews have been working hard since the current cold snap began last weekend, gritting as a preca! ution ahead of frosts and patrolling and gritting as needed to tackle areas affected by lying snow and ice.
“While the worst of the weather so far has been in East Lancashire, the Met Office is now warning that southern and coastal parts of the county which don’t get snow as often as the high ground in the east, could also see some snow and ice over the coming days.
“Our highways teams have gained valuable experience of dealing with prolonged severe weather in recent years and we’ll be carefully watching our forecasts which can provide very accurate information about particular local conditions.
“As always our top priority will be to keep the county moving and, if we get any significant snow, action will at first focus on ploughing and salting the network of A and B roads which link towns, villages, and vital infrastructure such as train stations and hospitals.
“During a snowstorm this can be a challenge in itself, and! depending on the conditions it could be some time before the main rou tes are clear and we have the resources available to treat the secondary network of more minor roads.
“I would ask people to be prepared and check on neighbours who they know to be vulnerable, to check their vehicles are equipped for winter, and also to carefully consider whether they need to make a journey at all if they know travel is disrupted.”
Lancashire County Council has a fleet of 49 frontline gritters which can treat the 1,500 miles of the county council’s priority road network within around four hours, but may take longer in severe conditions.
When it snows, it can cost up to £100,000 a day to keep the operation going.
The county council has also put on standby a number of agricultural contractors who clear more remote rural roads in the event of heavy snow.
County Councillor Ashton added: “Given that this may be the first snow and ice in some parts of Lancashire for a couple of years, I’d urge driver! s to be particularly careful and drive to the conditions.
“Even when a road has been gritted, it can remain icy until the movement of traffic has worked the salt in and made it take effect.”
People can find information and advice on winter weather, including real-time gritting updates on Lancashire County Council’s website which has links to forecasts and the council’s Twitter and Facebook feeds which are updated every time the gritters go out.
For more information about travelling this winter visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/winter, follow us on Twitter for news and updates at www.twitter.com/lancashirecc or Facebook www.facebook.com/lancashirecc (click on the winter tab).