changes to winter maintenance 2013/14
Changes to winter roads maintenance (gritting)
In February, staff at the Roads Service were asked to review a range of activities, including the gritting of roads during the winter months. The SIC have now approved a report which will lead to some significant changes to how that is done. Highlighted below are the most obvious changes, and their likely effects on road users.
Why are these changes being made?
Across the Council, services are being asked to make significant savings to make sure their operations are effective, appropriate and sustainable into the future. The review team have spent several months looking at how the gritting service has been run in the past, and how to deliver it in as sensible, cost-effective and targeted a way as possible in the future. It is estimated that the revisions to the service will save in the region of £370,000 per year. Priorities are to maintain the service to a reasonable standard, reduce costs, and reduce carbon emissions wherever possible.
How are services being changed?
A number of changes are being made which won’t have any direct impact on road users, i.e. the storage of salt, inspection services, gritter manning arrangements etc.
However, there are three main changes that are likely to have an impact on road users. These are:
- Reducing the gritting period on Saturday to the level of a Sunday service
- Not gritting certain routes where alternate routes are available
- Introducing a new ‘hierarchy’ system for gritted routes
So what will these changes mean for me?
Reducing gritting on Saturdays
Historically, gritting on Saturday has followed the same pattern as from Monday to Friday. The proposal is to bring this down to a ‘Sunday service’ level, i.e. with only the main routes and loop roads treated between 8am and 5pm. However, as is currently the case, key locations such as health centres, care centres etc. will be prioritised.
Not gritting certain routes when alternatives are available
There are certain stretches of road where alternate routes for drivers are available, and where there is little or no development. A new system of temporary road closures will be introduced, which will include signs to indicate roads have been closed during severe conditions. This may increase journey times, and you may have to make alternative arrangements for travel.
Introducing a new ‘hierarchy’ system for gritted routes
At the moment gritting gets underway at 6am. Clearing A-Class roads, then moves to the main loop roads, and then to smaller side roads. Most roads are treated within 3½ hours.
Under the new system, the smaller sides roads will not be treated unless priority locations have been identified - e.g. where there are significant numbers of care clients, carers or school pupils. These arrangements will be monitored each year and adjusted as required. The gritting A-Class and 'loop' roads will not be affected.
When will these changes happen?
The decision to introduce these changes was made at a meeting of the Council on 31 October this year. They will come into affect on Monday 12 November 2012.
How do I find out more?
Find out more about what we do during winter...
Hard copies of the new route maps and a brief outline of service changes to each area will be available from Community Councils, SIC community offices, care centres, and schools.
Anyone with individual queries can contact the Roads Service directly on 01595 744866.
Finally, road safety during the winter months is paramount. Motorists should always be aware of the risks they may be taking travelling on icy roads, and be prepared accordingly. Advice can be found at www.shetland.gov.uk/roads/what_drivers_can_do.asp