Aberdeenshire residents are being reassured that the local authority is ready to tackle whatever problems winter may throw at the area’s roads network this year.
The council’s team of more than 210 staff and over 100 vehicles are geared up to provide support to ensure the region’s residents can travel and operate as freely as possible through potentially challenging conditions.
Furthermore, the council contracts around 120 local farmers to help maintain minor and rural roads when necessary.
Meanwhile more than 25,000 tonnes of salt has been stockpiled in storage locations across Aberdeenshire and this will be topped-up during the winter depending on usage. The council typically uses around 45,000 tonnes of salt each year to ensure that the region’s 3,300-mile road network remains safe for drivers.
This all means the council is perfectly placed to respond to emergency situations, such as severe overnight snowfall and treacherous black ice.
The roads service will carry out emergency action between 10pm and 5.30am at the request of Police Scotland. This retains the council’s 24-hour service capability while ensuring a level of consistency.
The primary network is made up of 32 different routes and covers around 30% of Aberdeenshire’s total road network – almost 1,000 miles. These routes are mostly ‘A’ and ‘B’ class roads and other busy commuter routes that connect Aberdeenshire’s main towns and villages.
All roads are categorised into appropriate priority levels. The primary treatment network consists of priority one and two roads. The aim is to keep priority one roads passable at all times unless weather conditions are abnormally severe. These roads will always gritted before any others, including priority two roads.
The region’s primary road network will receive preventative treatment with gritters and ploughs sent out from 5.30am and 3pm each day when necessary. To reduce instances of unnecessary gritting, sub-zero road temperatures need to be forecast for 48 hours before priority three roads are treated.
As well as looking after the region’s roads, the council will also treat footways and cycle paths which have also been split into priority levels. The intention is to keep priority one footways in a safe condition for pedestrians, except during storm conditions.
These footways are typically in busy urban areas, near shops, businesses, and medical and community facilities. Footways won’t be treated before 8am, except in exceptional circumstances when heavy snowfall is forecast. Cycle paths will be prioritised and treated similarly.
To allow residents to self-treat nearby roads and footways, there are around 1400 grit bins located across Aberdeenshire.
Chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Cllr Peter Argyle, said: “Now that winter has arrived, it is important that all our residents and commuters are assured that we are prepared for whatever challenges may lie ahead.
“As ever, our teams will be working tirelessly over the winter period to ensure our roads, footways and cycle paths remain safe and passable for drivers and pedestrians as they travel across Aberdeenshire and beyond.”