How do we grit?
Highways, part of the Environment and Culture Directorate, is responsible for ensuring our partner Amey provides an effective Winter Maintenance Service for the City of Birmingham. The objective of this service is:
"To deliver an efficient and cost effective service for priority highway networks, which so far as is reasonably practicable enables the safe movement of vehicular and pedestrian traffic with a minimum of delay throughout the winter period whilst limiting the environmental impacts of the service".
This service operates from the end of October through to the middle of April each year and during this period the council fleet of gritters, together with associated equipment, is on standby 24 hours a day ready to treat the roads when required. If frost or ice is expected to form on roads or snow is anticipated we will carry out precautionary salting (gritting) of the priority highway network. This will involve spreading rock salt onto the highway which helps to prevent both icy patches and snow accumulations forming.
The pavements within the core of the city centre and Sutton Coldfield also receive precautionary treatment. Other footways in local shopping centres are cleared of snow when icy conditions persist and resources become available.
Facts And Figures
- 1200km of carriageway is routinely treated by Amey on behalf of Birmingham City Council.
- This network is divided into 23 gritting routes.
- A new fleet of gritting vehicles carry out this function.
- Salt spreading rates are adjusted to suit weather conditions.
- Each gritter carries 7 tonnes of rock salt.
- Most gritters are fitted with a snow plough.
- On average, each precautionary gritting run uses 100 tonnes of rock salt.
- We typically treat the roads 40 to 50 times per year.
- The City's opening rock salt stock is 7000 tonnes.
- It takes between 3 and 4 hours to treat the entire priority network.
- Ice is most likely to form at dawn.
What Is Grit?
Although often referred to as Grit, the material we spread on the road is actually rock salt. We obtain our salt from the salt mines in Cheshire and initial stock at the commencement of the winter maintenance period is 7,000 tonnes. The salt is in rock form when it is mined and needs to be crushed into small gravel before it can be used by our gritting vehicles. When you see our gritting vehicles in operation you will notice the salt is in its gravel form and light brown in colour. Only when vehicle tyres crush this gravel into the road and dry conditions prevail will the salt appear white.
At present there are over 1200 grit bins provided across the city. These bins are usually placed off the treated network at approved locations and are to assist road users on a self-help basis. They cover potentially hazardous locations such as gradients to busy junctions and steep hills and sharp bends. The grit bins are placed out during October and removed in the spring.
The material within grit bins is to be used on public roads and pavement areas only, it must not be used on private drives or paths. Salt for private use is readily available from DIY stores and builders merchants.