Laura Mowat’s on the roads with a look at prepa­ra­tions for the com­ing win­ter weather

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE -

If we get fore­casts wrong it could be cat­a­strophic As win­ter ap­proaches, the Trans­port for Bucks team is pre­par­ing for the in­clement weather con­di­tions. LAURA MOWAT went to the Ayles­bury de­pot to find out more about the win­ter op­er­a­tions

THIS year the big­gest con­cern for trans­port bosses is not the snow, but the flood­ing over the win­ter months.

Trans­port for Bucks area man­ager, Calvin Richard­son, said: “Flood­ing causes us a huge prob­lem. The wa­ter ta­ble has got to sat­u­ra­tion point.” Ar­eas in the south of the county, in­clud­ing Amer­sham and Marlow, are par­tic­u­larly sus­cep­ti­ble to flood­ing. There is around £300,000 of equip­ment to com­bat flood­ing in the de­pot, in­clud­ing pumps and sand­bags.

Mr Richard­son said: “Flood­ing is a new thing and we are less geared up for it. Some­how we have got to find the money to buy the ma­chines, to main­tain them, to do the drills so our men know what they are do­ing, it is an added pres­sure to our day job.”

The county coun­cil gets the salt from Cheshire and keeps it in four tim­ber salt domes for stor­age.

The coun­cil has a re­serve of 10,500 tonnes of salt for this year’s win­ter, one tonne costs the coun­cil £36. Last year, the coun­cil used 5,600 tonnes on 43 runs.

The fleet of 25 grit­ter lor­ries all cover dif­fer­ent routes across the county.

They cover around 45 per cent of the county’s roads, in par­tic­u­lar the main roads and around schools.

School chil­dren give them their names, which in­clude Daisy and Mighty Thaw.

Trans­port for Bucks keeps a watch­ful eye on the nine weather sta­tions across the county to find out four dif­fer­ent weather fore­casts in the day.

De­pend­ing on the weather fore­cast, the man­agers will make a de­ci­sion as to whether the grit­ters should go out on a route.

Mr Richard­son said: “The most im­por­tant part of what we do is the weather fore­casts, if we get that wrong, it could be cat­a­strophic. The de­ci­sion is para­mount.”

If the grit­ters go out too early in bad weather con­di­tions, the salt could be sim­ply blown off and too late, it will have less ef­fect. The de­ci­sion is made de­pend­ing on the tem­per­a­ture of the ground.

Snow ploughs are only used when snow falls in ex­cess of 50mm. Any less than that, snow is re­moved from the road with the fre­quent ap­pli­ca­tion of salt and ac­tion of traf­fic.

The Trans­port for Bucks web­site shows the routes and which roads are be­ing grit­ted at any time.

The grit­ters have GPS track­ers in­stalled so as soon as they start their routes, their progress may be tracked on­line.

Grit­ters are sent out at 4am and 7pm to en­sure the roads are treated be­fore the road tem­per­a­ture drops be­low zero and be­fore peak travel time in the morn­ing.

Two de­ci­sions are made over grit­ting in Buck­ing­hamshire – one for the north of the county and one for the south, as weather con­di­tions and road tem­per­a­tures may vary.

PC Pe­ter Hare, of the Thames Val­ley Po­lice Roads Polic­ing Depart­ment, said that over the win­ter months, peo­ple must take par­tic­u­lar care to en­sure that they drive ac­cord­ing to the con­di­tions on the road.

He said: “There is no rhyme or rhythm to the ac­ci­dents, driv­ers need to drive to the con­di­tions. Peo­ple still need to check their oil and screen­wash, peo­ple for­get be­cause their cars are mod­ern.

“Driv­ers need to be ex­tra care­ful with the dis­tance be­tween them­selves and the car in front.”

Last year, there were 11 fa­tal­i­ties due to car ac­ci­dents in Bucks, two of th­ese were mo­tor­cy­clists, three re­sulted in a pros­e­cu­tion and one was down to a med­i­cal episode.

To find out more, see www. trans­port­for­bucks. net and to fol­low Trans­port for Bucks on Twit­ter, go to @ tf­balerts.

Mapped out: Above, The Trans­port for Bucks team keep ay eye on the grit­ters with the screens in their of­fice. Right, Bucks County coun­cil­lor Paul

Ir­win at the Trans­port for Bucks de­pot day

Un­der con­trol: Above, Trans­port for Bucks area man­ager, Calvin Richard­son. Be­low left, vis­i­tors at a re­cent de­pot day

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