SOMERSET Council says it is confident it will have enough grit to keep the county’s road clear of snow and ice in the event of an especially cold winter.

The council has a fleet of 23 gritters which protect around 900 miles of roads across Somerset, being deployed throughout the winter months whenever the temperature drops below zero.

The fleet was deployed on 67 separate occasions over the winter of 2022/23, with preparations under way for this winter ahead of the first long-range forecasts for the Christmas period.

The council has now published a map of all the routes it will be treating this year, and has promised residents that it will have sufficient grit supplies to handle even the most extreme weather.

Councillor Mike Rigby, portfolio holder for transport and digital, said: “As the winter season approaches, it becomes even more vitally important that road users travel according to the conditions.

“All the preparation of our depots, and all the filling of our salt barns has taken place throughout the summer, so that everyone is good to go when the temperatures drop.

“The team are checking the forecasts every day; as soon as they get the call, the gritters are ready to go.”

Gritting is carried out when road surface temperatures are predicted to drop below 1°C and ice or snow is expected.

Bridgwater Mercury: Josh sits in the cabin of a gritting truck.Josh sits in the cabin of a gritting truck. (Image: Somerset Council)

Precautionary gritting normally takes place before the formation of ice –  meaning the council’s teams are out in the evening or early morning.

Gritter driver Josh Russell added: “Please be patient and take care. Allow us to do our job so you can get to yours safely.”

Last year, Somerset’s farmers were helpful in supporting the council’s winter services, by taking on snow ploughing duties when conditions became challenging.

Just over one-fifth of Somerset’s roads are treated, with this year’s routes comprising every route treated last winter plus a small number of additions.

A spokesman said: “Our main priority is to keep the busiest routes clear whenever ice or snow is expected.

“The priority is roads that link major towns, villages and communities on high ground and the important routes across the county for long distance travel.”

Among the major roads which will be gritted this winter are the A30 between Chard and Yeovil via Crewkerne, the A38 between Wellington and Highbridge (via Taunton and Bridgwater), the A39 between Bridgwater and Minehead and the A361 between Taunton and Frome, via Glastonbury and Shepton Mallet.

The council’s gritting responsibilities do not include the M5, the A303 or the A36, since these are the responsibility of National Highways which has its own separate fleet of gritters.

A council spokesman said: “We are confident that we have enough salt for the winter.

“We can’t treat every road, as there aren’t enough gritters, drivers and depot staff to make this cost-efficient.

“However, we are carrying on our work with parish councils to fill roadside grit bins on request and are continuing to run a community-led snow warden scheme.”

To view the council’s gritting map in full, visit Daily gritting updates will be posted on Travel Somerset’s Twitter and Facebook accounts throughout winter.