Suffolk’s gritters make journeys equivalent to six trips around the globe this winter

Suffolk Highways gritters being prepared for action during the snow. Picture: SUFFOLK HIGHWAYS

Suffolk Highways gritters being prepared for action during the snow. Picture: SUFFOLK HIGHWAYS - Credit: Archant

Suffolk gritting teams have had to spread twice as much salt on the county’s roads this winter, as latest figures reveal that nearly 150,000 miles of road have been covered – the equivalent of six trips around the globe.

Suffolk Highways figures prepared for Thursday’s Suffolk County Council meeting revealed that in January alone there were 29 gritting runs, with runs having started on November 5 – earlier than usual.

A total of 149,500 miles of road have already been treated this winter by the county’s 37 gritters – the equivalent of six times around the globe.

So far more than 27,745 tonnes of salt has been used – more than double the 12,547 tonnes used last winter and more than three times as much as the 2015/16 winter.

This season’s winter grit equates to 5,549 African elephants weighing five tonnes apiece.


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Jane Storey, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for highways, transport and rural issues said: “When we started with 24,000 tonnes you can see how much further we have gone this year.”

The figures represent a marked increase on last winter.

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Between November 5 and March 27 this winter, gritters had to make 184 runs, while the winter of 2016-17 comprised 102.

This season, overnight runs so far have totalled 89 compared with the 55 overnight actions needed last year.

Ms Storey paid tribute to the gritting teams who have worked hard across the winter, with teams comprising both regular Highways workers and Highways office staff with licences, as a dedicated gritting team does not exist.

The county council is also unable to force people to go out on gritting runs.

“Those people have volunteered to go out on a gritting run,” she said.

“OK, they are paid by Suffolk Highways, but they don’t have to go out on a gritting run.”

Despite the upturn needed in salt spreading, forecasters say it has been an average winter.

Adam Dury, Weatherquest forecaster said: “The winter has actually been bang on average.

“The average temperature for winter is 4.3C, which is exactly what it was.

“Although the cold snaps we have had would not have been included in those figures as they came mainly in March.”

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