Despite the current mild turn in the weather, the City of Edinburgh Council is gearing up for whatever the winter has to throw at the Capital over the coming months.
Gritters, mini tractors and ploughs are lined up and ready to go, along with 14,500 tonnes of stockpiled salt, in preparation for any snow, ice or freezing temperatures.
This is the first winter crews will benefit from road temperature data gathered over recent years to create a ‘thermal map’ of the city’s routes. Weather monitoring providers can now display the minimum forecast temperatures for different roads, which helps teams direct resources accordingly.
The service will also continue to utilise tracking technology introduced last year, enabling more efficient management of resources. Telematics devices have been fitted to the entire winter weather fleet to allow lorries and tractors to transmit their location and gritting operation, meaning teams can respond more quickly to the public.
Transport and Environment Vice Convener, Councillor Karen Doran, said: “It’s only a matter of months since the ‘Beast from the East’ hit the country, so we know only too well the impact severe weather can have on the city, and how important it is that we are fully prepared for whatever winter has in store.
“Thanks to the hard work of staff from across the Council we were able to continue delivering essential services during this period, and to get the city moving as quickly as possible afterwards, so I’m confident that we’re ready for the colder months to come.
“We’ve been planning ahead and now our fleet of winter weather vehicles are ready to go, salt stocks are topped up and staff are trained. This year we’ll also benefit from a new ‘thermal map’ of our city’s routes which, along with recently-installed telematics technology, will help us direct resources where they are needed most.”
In March, extreme winter weather saw Road Services working throughout the night, as heavy snow and freezing temperatures hit the city. Teams deployed 4×4 vehicles to help deliver midwives, registrars and other workers to carry out essential duties as well as ploughing and salting priority routes, ensuring access to hospitals, care and residential homes.
Roads Services were joined by more than 100 Waste and Cleansing, Parks and Facilities Management staff to clear pavements near doctors, chemists, key pedestrian areas and school grounds, as well as refilling grit bins, while members of the community pitched in to grit local routes and help older and vulnerable people in their neighbourhoods.
In preparation for this year’s winter, staff from across the Council have once again been recruited to its severe winter weather tactical response team to help keep the city moving should a similar weather emergency strike, fulfilling a variety of roles from information gathering to operational coordination of contractors.
Local farmers have been enlisted, as in previous years, to support the Council’s winter weather response by gritting rural routes and contracts are in place with external contractors should the Council need access to additional staff and equipment in extreme winter conditions.
The public can find out about priority road, cycle path and pavement gritting routes by visiting the Council website’s winter weather pages which include an interactive map so that residents can locate their nearest salt bin.
If and when severe weather strikes, the Council will use its social media channels, website and local radio stations to keep residents updated on any impact on services.