ROAD safety will not be compromised, after councillors agreed to an overhaul of the local authority’s winter service plan, writes Mark Entwistle.
The alterations include axing a substantial number of miles from the council’s primary salting network of routes.
But Councillor Gordon Edgar (Selkirkshire, Con), executive member for roads and infrastructure, speaking this week after the SBC executive agreed the plans, pledged there would be no compromise on safety.
Councillors agreed several recommendations, including amending the winter service lan for 2012/13 that reduces spend by £170,000, by cutting the percentage of road length treated as primary salting routes from 43 per cent to 37 per cent.
However, the new scheme will see all class A and B roads remaining on the priority on the priority list, while the number of community salt bins will be boosted by 50 to 920 in total.
Spending will also be increased on routes in the western area of council territory by £100,000, so that all primary salting routes will receive a pretreatment level of service.
But Mr Edgar says the reassessing of routes has seen a degree of flexibility built into the scheme to allow changes to be made if there were routes where problems arose.
“All the reductions were based on usage and priority and there were certainly routes that did not require salting to that level of significance” he told us.
“But there will be no reduction in the safety of the community because these roads, although they have been taken off the priority list, will still be treated along with all the other roads that we do treat.”
Mr Edgar added that council officers would have the flexibility to amend the scheme if the need arose.
“Officers will have the ability to monitor the situation and, if necessary they can alter the treatment,” he said.
Mr Edgar said the savings being made were being used to increase other safety measures. “Last year, the council cut back on salt bins for example, but a number of these will now be put back,” he explained.
“We are also standardising the priority service with the use of automated dispensers. These savings can be made without compromising road safety – that is something we would never do.”
The change to automated salting of the road network, involves gritters being fitted with a navigation and spread distribution aid to assist drivers.
Automated salting allows the gritter driver to select a predefined route and drive with the aid of voice-activated navigation instructions.
The system will automatically start equipment salting, change salt spread width as the gritting route is travelled and turn off salting against an agreed route card.
The introduction of automated salt treatment is seen as a way to reduce salt wastage by controlling the actual salt spreading on a gritting route to meet predetermined parameters.
For example, elimination of an overspread of a third of a metre either side of a standard carriageway could result in savings of salt usage of up to £2,000 on one primary salting route of 40km length, based on 180 planned salting actions during an average winter.
Since the approval of the winter review last October, the digitisation of all current primary salting routes has been carried out.
This is the first stage in preparing the gritter control box to carry out automated salting.
The final stage will be to identify and locate control points along each primary salting route to enable the system to activate the gritter controls to carry out predetermined actions when and where required.
It is estimated that it will take a full winter period to complete all the work necessary to introduce fully automated salting and that any predicted savings will not be realised until the winter of 2013/14.