New £500k gritters bought by council in preparation for Winter
Almost half a million pounds has been spent on new gritters as an authority prepares for a winter of ice and snow.
Gateshead Council has spent a total of £476,000 on the five new vehicles in a bid to keep the roads clear this Christmas.
Two of the gritters are two-wheel drive and they cost £82,000 each. The other three are four-wheel drive, needed for the highwe ground in the west of the borough – Chopwell, Whickham, Sunniside, Winlaton, and cost £104,000 each.
Council bosses say that all have powerful engines capable of pulling them and their eight-tonne load of grit through freezing conditions.
Each vehicle is fitted with a programmable grit spreader linked to an in-cab CCTV system which lets the driver see exactly how much and where the grit is being spread.
They also have a tracking system which records exactly which roads have been treated.
Gateshead operates a fleet of nine gritters and crews are on 24-hour standby in case of snow and ice.
Specialist in-depth weather forecasts are constantly monitored for any indication of freezing weather to ensure that the gritter fleet is scrambled ahead of the freeze.
As Gateshead is the highest area in Tyne and Wear, it means it is more prone to snow and freezing than elsewhere on Tyneside, and gritter crews face a tough challenge.
Roads are treated on a strict priority basis, with more than 323 miles of priority road gritted overnight during freezing weather.
Gateshead has more than 600 miles of road and the council has to prioritise its gritting routes.
The first priority is roads with high level of traffic such as the Felling by-pass and the A695 through Blaydon
Gritters then move onto other main roads and bus routes with the council then clearing footpaths by hand around shopping centres, bus stops, footbridges and where a large number of older people live the A1 and A194 are gritted by Highways England.