06 January 2010

Cumbria innovates to treast minor roads

A northern council is using an innovative method to treat minor roads in the current extreme weather conditions.
On Monday Cumbria CC had opted to only treat priority one and two routes due to dwindling salt stocks, but has now started treating priority three routes using sea washed stone chippings from a local supplier.
The small fragments of rock will allow vehicles to gain some traction on the roads compacted with snow and ice. Rock salt would only have a limited effect anyway on such roads - the top level of snow would melt but could then refreeze later and make the road even more hazardous. The council said there was ‘ample supplies of chippings’ to treat minor roads, allowing reserves of rock salt to be used to treat the county's 1,500 miles of priority one and two routes.
A council spokesman told LocalGov.co.uk the solution was last used in similar weather conditions in the early 1980s. ‘It’s like shingle really, and certainly cheaper than rock salt.’ However, he added that the council was bracing itself for the ‘after impact’ of the snow, when the extent of the damage to its roads becomes apparent.
Councillor Tony Markley, Cumbria’s cabinet member for highways, said: ‘This latest innovation shows we're thinking on our feet to come up with the best solutions on how to cope in extremely harsh conditions.’
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