Network open despite disruption


Network kept open but highways staff prepare for further severe weather disruption.

Winter service teams are braced for further severe weather, after local road networks were kept open last weekend, despite the late cold snap testing resilience plans.

As Surveyor went to press, forecasters suggested an imminent return of snow and icy conditions, with such weather expected throughout the rest of February.

There has also been a warning about high winds towards the end of the month. Last month, 80mph gusts caused much disruption to the transport network as roads and bridges were closed following accidents and fallen trees (Surveyor, 13 January).

The Government claims the nation is 'better prepared than ever for severe winter weather', as salt stocks – held by the Highways Agency and local authorities – stand at more than 2.4m tonnes.

Council chiefs have praised thousands of residents who took advantage of new salt bins placed in residential areas, as well as farmers, community groups and parish councils, who all helped grit hard-to-reach areas and side streets.

Cllr Peter Box, chair of the Local Government Association's transport board, said: 'Tens of thousands of tonnes of salt was laid over the weekend and this will continue throughout the freezing weather.'

Labour's shadow transport secretary, Maria Eagle, praised council workers for working to keep local road networks moving in freezing conditions. 'We can never completely prevent severe weather from disrupting travel, and it's clear that steps have been taken since last year's chaos,' she said.

In 2010,the Department for Transport introduced a salt stock-monitoring portal and, in co-operation with local highway authorities, undertakes regular audits of stock levels.

Latest departmental figures suggest 180,000t are held by authorities in Yorkshire and the Humber, while those in the North East currently have at least 137,000t.

Councils in the South East increased their holdings threefold, increasing stocks from 35,000t in January 2011, to 86,000t this year.


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