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Jackson project helps Highways England prepare for winter

Jackson recently completed the demolition and reconstruction of a new salt barn at Highways England’s Breakspear Depot in Hemel Hempstead, doubling the capacity of salt stored there.

Delivered on behalf of Amey, the new salt barn was completed 17 days ahead of programme, which enabled the stock of winter salt to be purchased at summer prices, generating a saving for the client.

With a capacity of 4200 tonnes, the new barn houses enough salt to fill 1 ½ Olympic sized swimming pools, or grit 9500 miles of road. Salt supplies will be topped up throughout the winter and a total of 63 gritters are also on standby across the East of England to start spreading salt when temperatures are forecast to dip below freezing.

Following completion of the barn in September, Highways England launched their new winter road safety campaign from the depot, which aims to raise awareness of the dangers of undertaking gritting lorries on the hard shoulder.

Highways England’s gritter drivers have noticed a growing problem with road users veering into the hard shoulder to avoid being struck by salt, risking a collision with a stationary vehicle and causing a hazard when gritters try to come off at junctions.

The latest statistics show that, on average, 16 people lose their lives every year as a result of collisions on hard shoulders or in laybys across England, and 45 suffer a serious injury. Drivers are being asked not to take unnecessary risks this winter to help keep the region’s motorways and major A roads moving and safe.

Gritters usually travel at 40mph in the middle lane when they are spreading salt on a three-lane motorway, treating the lane they are in and one lane on either side. Drivers are being advised to only pass a gritter when it is safe to do so, avoiding using the hard shoulder and checking for hazards ahead.

Debbie Harvey, East Assistant Winter Service Manager at Highways England, added:
“Our gritter drivers will be out in all weathers again this winter and we’re encouraging road users to do their bit to help keep the region’s motorways and major A roads moving.

“The vast majority of people support our gritter drivers by keeping back a sensible distance and only passing when it’s safe to do so, but a few have been putting themselves and others at risk by using the hard shoulder to undertake gritters.”

More details on staying safe on the roads this winter are available at www.metoffice.gov.uk/winterhighways.