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How many gritting runs does Suffolk Highways carry out in winter?

PUBLISHED: 18:31 27 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:03 28 November 2019

The newly-named gritter fleet will take to the road this winter. Picture: SUFFOLK HIGHWAYS

The newly-named gritter fleet will take to the road this winter. Picture: SUFFOLK HIGHWAYS

Archant

Improved sat navs and more drivers are among the improvements made to gritting services on the county's roads this winter.

The streets of Ipswich were covered in a blanket of white during the 'Beast from the East'.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe streets of Ipswich were covered in a blanket of white during the 'Beast from the East'. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk Highways' gritting season began on October 1, and runs through to the end of April, with a host of improvements brought in this year.

Among those is a new GPS system, Exactrak, which means navigators are not needed for gritter drivers; an increased rota of drivers and supervisors available and the ability to spread salt at 40mph, instead of the 30mph limit of previous years on appropriate roads.

According to highways chiefs, more than 22,000 tonnes of salt are stocked across the county's eight depots ready to tackle the ice on more than 4,000 miles of road.

Lloyd Jones, communications and customer services manager at Suffolk Highways, said: "We are in a good position this winter.

Suffolk Highways' gritter fleet is ready to tackle the ice on the county's roads this winter.Picture: SUFFOLK HIGHWAYSSuffolk Highways' gritter fleet is ready to tackle the ice on the county's roads this winter.Picture: SUFFOLK HIGHWAYS

"We started planning at the end of last season and there are things we are thinking about for next year.

"Compared to our neighbouring authorities in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex we grit more of our roads than any others do."

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The team carries out gritting runs once road surface temperatures drop to 1C or below (33.8F) with a typical season comprising between 70 and 90 runs.

Suffolk Highways' gritter fleet is ready to tackle the ice on the county's roads this winter.Picture: SUFFOLK HIGHWAYSSuffolk Highways' gritter fleet is ready to tackle the ice on the county's roads this winter.Picture: SUFFOLK HIGHWAYS

In the harsh winter of 2017/18 when the Beast from the East hit, that number doubled to 188 runs - but the county still did not run out of salt.

As well as its own gritters, Suffolk Highways has contracts with around 70 farmers who can be mobilised to plough with their tractors in the event of snow.

However, the team is looking for existing HGV drivers who may wish to consider gritting runs to earn some extra cash in the run up to Christmas, and have issued advice for motorists to help keep themselves safe on the road.

Gemma Allard, from Suffolk Highways' communications team, is also one of the gritter drivers and said: "People can get really impatient when they are stuck behind you but we can only grit at a certain speed.

"If we cannot get down a road [because of nuisance parking] we cannot grit it so if people park considerably we can do our job."

This year will also mark the first season of the newly-named gritting fleet, with the likes of Spready Mercury, Jon Snow and Grit Rhys-Jones among the names taking to the road.

Youngsters were given the chance to put forward their suggestions at the Suffolk Show in May, with the winning entries being announced last month.

To stay up to date with gritting runs in the county, follow the Suffolk Highways Twitter feed here.

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