Winter Preparations

Motorists warned not to drive through road closures

Following reports across Lincolnshire of vehicles driving through closed areas with flood water up to their headlights, the County Council is warning motorists to respect road closure signs – and has issued 5 surprising reasons why driving through water can be dangerous.
 
The authority has also witnessed motorists removing or driving past signage and David Davies, Principal Maintenance Engineer at the county council, said:
 
“We know it’s frustrating to encounter a road closure sign, especially if – to the naked eye – the way ahead looks like you could navigate it with care. However, we close roads for very good reasons which may not be immediately obvious, including damage to road surfaces, submerged hazards, the potential for damage to vehicles and the water’s depth.
 
“We’ve even seen some people removing signs to drive through flood water, which is not only putting themselves and their passengers in danger but irresponsible for any unsuspecting vehicles which may follow later. Please respect any road closure signs – the detour will always be worth the potential alternative.”
 
Here are Lincolnshire County Council’s top 5 reasons not to drive through flood water:
 
Surprisingly, it only takes 1 foot of water to float many cars and two feet of flowing water can sweep even 4-wheel-drive vehicles away.
Water can hide many things in the road – dips, boulders, even removed manhole covers which are prone to coming loose in floods.
Some roads can be closed as the surface has been undermined, so even if the water doesn’t look too deep, the highway may be crumbling below you.
Just six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars; this depth can cause water to be sucked in resulting in loss of control, stalling, damage to the brakes, electronics or transmission. Reduced air intake can also damage engines, especially diesels.
If you’ve removed a sign to drive through a flooded road, the situation may worsen after you’ve passed, leading other unsuspecting motorists straight into it.
 
The authority’s particular areas of concern today are the B1184 known as The Gride  between Sibsey, Hobhole Bank to Old Leake and the A57 Dunham Bridge.
 
Flooded roads can be reported to the county council on 01522 782070. Any other flooding should be reported to the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.
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Residents can now keep up to date with conditions on the county’s roads and the activities of the winter highways team, thanks to a new Gritter Twitter service.

 LincsCC_Winter will keep the public in the know with when the gritters are going out, advice on what the current driving conditions are like, information on the work of the winter maintenance team, fascinating facts and answers to frequently asked questions. It will also provide members of the public with the opportunity to ask questions via Twitter.

Cllr William Webb, Executive Member for Highways at Lincolnshire County Council, said:

“This is another innovative way for Lincolnshire residents to obtain very useful information and talk to us on a matter that affects us all. By keeping up to date with LincsCC_Winter on Twitter, the travelling public can better understand how the cold weather is affecting our roads before they set off on their journeys and, who knows, it could prevent accidents and even save lives.

“At this time of year, we’re constantly monitoring conditions, so our Twitter account will also operate overnight, although the priority of course will be the task in hand so replies may not be possible straight away at busy times. Online communication is also more cost-effective, benefitting the taxpayer too.

“However, we know that despite the growing number of people who want to use social media for such things, this must be in addition to the existing methods such as picking up the phone, which we know many will still prefer.”

The dedicated Highways Customer Service Centre remains open for calls on 01522 782070, 8am – 6pm, Monday to Friday.  Anyone wishing to view the Twitter updates should follow @LincsCC_Winter or, even if you don’t have a Twitter account, you can still view them by going to www.twitter.com/LincsCC_Winter.

Can you offer snow help?
Lincolnshire County Council is looking for farmers, contractors and hauliers to help keep the local roads clear of heavy snow this winter.

At times of extreme weather, extra resources, including plant and labour, are hired in as necessary and as available. This extra resource includes local farmers, hauliers and other contractors.

Before the start of each winter season, agreements are made with these farmer/contractors on such matters as plant and labour availability and hire rates.

Typical plant used during snow clearance operations are ploughs fitted to tractors, and JCBs and loaders with buckets.

Anyone interested in providing help to the County Council during extreme winter weather should submit a tender to the appropriate divisional office.
In the case of North Division (which covers West Lindsey) the address is Lincolnshire County Council, Greater Lincoln & Gainsborough Division, 4th Floor City Hall, Lincoln, LN1 1 DN, from where the tender documents can be obtained in the first instance.

For more information contact Lincolnshire County Council's customer service centre on 01522 782070.

Tips on clearing snow and ice
>  Don't use hot water - this will melt the snow, but may replace it with black ice.
>  Be a good neighbour – some people may be unable to clear snow and ice on their paths.
>  If shovelling snow, think where you are going to put it so that it doesn't block people's paths or drainage channels.
>  Make a pathway down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so you have a clear surface to walk on.
>  Spreading some salt on the area you have cleared will help stop ice forming - table salt or dishwasher salt will work, but avoid spreading on plants or grass as they may be damaged by it.
>  Pay particular care and attention to steps and steep gradients.
>  Use the sun to your advantage - removing the top layer of snow will allow the sun to melt any ice beneath; however you will need to cover any ice with salt to stop it refreezing overnight.
> If there's no salt available, sand or ash are good alternatives.

Changes already addressed:
>  More staff have been given the technology to be able to work flexibly from other locations.
>  West Lindsey District Council has made stronger links with Lincolnshire County Council to ensure refuse staff are deployed where they are needed most if waste collections cannot be made.
>  A small gritter and plough which can be mounted onto the council's tractor has been bought.
>  In addition, the authority has invested in a hand-propelled gritting device and a number of snow grippers which can be moved around the district.
>  The council has also been in discussion with contractors about the provision of suitable equipment and man power if needed.

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Got a question about gritting?
Look online!
 

Whether it’s information on priority gritting routes you’re after, or how to get your grit bin refilled, a new section of the county council’s website hopes to answer all your gritting questions – www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/grittingfaqs 

Created from the types of calls people make to the county council’s Customer Service Centre, the FAQs have been put together in good time for this winter and include: 

How do I request a grit bin, or get one filled?
Which roads are treated?
Will I be sued if someone falls on a road or path I have cleared?
What’s the best way to clear snow and ice?
Can I use salt from the grit bins on my driveway?
Is my local library/child’s school still open?

Executive Member for Highways and Transportation, Councillor William Webb, said: “We hope people will find this new section of our website really helpful to answer their gritting queries. We’ve taken a look at the kind of calls our customer service centre receives from the public and many of the questions are very similar.

“We do treat a staggering one third of our county’s roads – all A and B roads, plus a main road to most villages too – well exceeding government expectations. We’d always urge motorists to drive to the conditions and remember that while salt can help, it’s not a cure. Once temperatures fall below minus seven degrees, the salt becomes far less effective.”

“We get a lot of calls asking whether someone could be sued if a person falls on a road or path they have cleared. This is highly unlikely, unless they have done something irresponsible like pouring hot water, creating a slippery surface. We’ve got some top tips about the best way of clearing snow and ice in the FAQs as well.”

Councillor Webb said: “There are answers to questions about how people can request a grit bin, or get their local one refilled. People often ask whether they can use the salt from the bins on their own driveways. It should only be used to help keep people moving on the highways and footways, not their own private property.”

During a typical week, the Customer Service Centre receives around 2,000 Highways calls. In severe weather, like that experienced last winter, around 3,850 Highways calls were received – an increase of nearly 100%.

 Councillor Webb added: “If you are trying to get through when snow is all around us, why not look online at www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/grittingfaqs to see if we’ve answered your question?”