Cumbria County Council has launched an innovative new online map and Twitter service so that people can keep track of gritting plans during the winter months.
The interactive map, which can be viewed on the council's website at www.cumbria.gov.uk/gritting is updated each lunchtime to show which roads the council's in-house fleet of gritters intend to treat that evening and overnight during periods of snowy and frosty weather. The decision on whether to grit or not is triggered by the council's network of monitoring equipment checking road surface temperatures right around the county.
The fully interactive and downloadable map will keep Cumbria's road users up to date with the latest information regarding which areas of Cumbria will be gritted as first and secondary priority routes and the treatment timescales for each.
This new online service has been launched to coincide with the recent arrival of 33 new state-of-the-art gritters, part of a fleet of nearly 150 vehicles maintaining Cumbria's roads and representing an investment of over £ 7m by Cumbria County Council. The new gritters are equipped with on-board computers and GPS mapping technology giving information on temperatures and also controlling the spread of rock salt. The vehicles can also be fitted with snow ploughs, while two new four-wheel drive Unimog trucks can also be fitted with snow blowers to tackle some of the country's highest roads, which often face the most severe winter conditions.
Gritting updates from the new online service can also be tracked through Cumbria County Council's Twitter account at @CumbriaCC and by subscribing to an RSS feed at www.cumbria.gov.uk/gritting/rss.xml.
The innovative new approach is part of a revamped in-house highways service which is aiming to be more responsive and effective than ever before. So far around 70 people have signed up to be snow champions, where they volunteer to clear and treat footways and pavements in their local communities.
So far this winter the gritters have been operating on 28 days for priority one and two routes. Approximately 6,200 tonnes of salt have been used by gritters and for topping up salt bins and heaps, and the council still has around 23,000 tonnes in store.