HA braces for hard winter

The Highways Agency has said it is “well prepared” for an onslaught of bad weather this winter, amid fears that the colder months may again bring traffic on the country’s roads to a standstill.

The Agency said its national winter vehicle fleet now totals over 500 vehicles, which will be working around the clock from 100 depots located across England, allowing quick access all parts of the strategic road network.

Plans have been particularly tightened in the North West, which has been one of the worst affected areas of bad weather in recent years.

“The Highways Agency is well-prepared for winter across the North West,” said the Agency’s severe weather manager, Andrew Olive. “We have 19 operational depots across the region, with our salt barns fully stocked with 44,280 tonnes. We have 73 salt-spreading vehicles and ploughs and six snow-blowers.

“We have improved our resilience over the years and our grit supplier, Compass Minerals, has improved its above-ground resilience with some 650,000 tonnes of rock salt now available above ground. Following previous years, the Highways Agency itself has in excess of 250,000 tonnes around the country.”

Olive said the Agency will use detailed weather forecasts and treat the road network before road temperatures fall below freezing, often at night in preparation for peak traffic periods. “But that doesn’t mean people should drive as they normally would,” he warned. “In severe weather, drivers need to take care and plan ahead.”