Southampton City Council ready to keep roads moving in winter

With temperatures now noticeably colder, Southampton City Council’s Highways Partnership is ready to keep the city moving throughout the winter months.

While many more people are now staying at home in line with the current Covid-19 restrictions, it’s imperative that we continue to look after our roads for those who still need to travel for essential work and education during these typically more challenging conditions. 

The council’s highways partner, Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP), has sent its fleet out on test runs and is closely monitoring temperatures on the road network on a daily basis. Crews are poised and ready to treat the roads when the temperature falls.

900 tonnes of grit stockpiled

BBLP has 900 tonnes of grit stockpiled in the city and has access to additional stocks that are held by the Balfour Beatty Group regionally. There are four state-of-the-art gritting vehicles ready to roll, with improved gritting speeds and spread, and on-board GPS technology to monitor and audit the gritting process around the city.  

Keeping a close eye on the weather forecast, we will deploy the gritting trucks to ensure that the network is treated before the road temperature drops below zero and before peak travel time in the morning. This gives the trucks a clearer run, as it is more difficult to treat the roads effectively when there is a lot of traffic on the network.

Prioritising key roads for gritting

Southampton has a total of 369 miles of roads within its boundaries. It’s simply not practical or cost-effective to treat the entire network so roads are prioritised according to how much traffic they carry and their importance to the flow of the wider network.  

This year, with the added challenge of Covid-19, we’ll also be prioritising routes to local Covid-19 testing centres and hospitals to make sure that these important locations can be accessed as easily and with as little disruption as possible.

Where possible we will prioritise the gritting and clearance of main access footpaths and those with higher footfall in times of prolonged severe weather. If there are extended periods of freezing conditions or snowfall we can divert staff from their normal duties to grit and clear main access footpaths. Visit our website and enter your postcode for more information on the priority routes in your area. 

Gritting bins

The Southampton Highways Partnership provides over 340 grit bins across the city. The locations of these can also be found on our website.

Anyone can apply for a new grit bin on the council’s website and the location will be assessed against criteria such as hills, sharp bends and amenity needs. If it scores sufficiently then, subject to the council having available funding, one will be installed. Throughout the winter season please make sure you report empty grit bins via our website and they will be refilled. 

Residents should not be put off clearing footways because they are afraid someone will get injured. There is no law stopping individuals from clearing snow and ice on the footway outside their homes or from public spaces. The government has produced a Snow Code providing practical advice for householders wishing to clear snow and ice from footpaths outside their homes or from public spaces.

The grit in these public bins is provided for use on public roads and footpaths only and should not be used to grit private properties.  

24/7 response to flooding

We also have teams on standby 24/7 to respond to flooding on the highway to keep the city moving. We regularly clear drains and gullies through an extensive year-round maintenance programme alongside street cleansing provision to sweep roads and footpaths. However it is possible that areas of the city may still experience flooding following periods of heavy rainfall, particularly in the autumn when leaf fall is high. Residents and commuters can report localised flooding to us on our website.

We recommend regularly clearing your garden drainage, guttering and paths when it is safe to do so. Leaves and other debris can be slippery in the cold and can block drainage during heavy rainfall.

To keep informed about adverse weather you can sign up to the free Met Office weather warning service or the Environment Agency Flood Warnings Direct service.

Councillor Steve Leggett, Cabinet Member for Green City and Place, says:

“We are fully prepared for the challenges of winter weather, and we will be prioritising gritting of routes to our hospitals and the Covid-19 testing sites as well as other key roads across the network. Grit bins are well stocked and crews are on standby to treat our roads as and when temperatures drop.

During cold weather please remember to look out for your neighbours, particularly those who are more vulnerable, and take extra care when travelling in more difficult conditions.”

Residents can stay up to date with when our teams are out and about treating the roads, and any other news on our roads, by following @scchighways on Twitter.

We also recommend signing up for updates from Stay Connected, our email alert service.