Central London gets GPS guided spreaders to clear the way

Published:  10 February, 2012

As the winter finally shows signs of setting in, one London council is fully prepared with the latest possible technology to ensure that cold weather does not halt business and tourism in the capital and will ensure residents can get around safely.

Westminster City Council has a new fleet of GPS Guided Gritting Trucks capable of being controlled from a central command centre in order to spread the 1,600 tons of salt stockpiled in three silos across the borough.

Each truck can carry up to eight tonnes of salt and is fitted with a GPS unit, so where they are and when can be monitored. Sensors also indicate whether or not the vehicles are actually spreading salt or just travelling.

Each will have satellite navigation units installed, meaning that drivers can be instructed where to go and the exact route to take, delivering greater round efficiency and ensuring salt is spread where most needed.

Cabinet member for city management, Cllr Ed Argar, said: “Although we have had a mild autumn Westminster is never complacent when it comes to getting ready for winter weather, we have not relented in making sure that everything is in place to combat ice and snow.

“If the temperature drops this winter, Westminster City Council will be doing all it can to keep our roads and pavements clear and keep the transport network moving. This innovative and state of the art technology will make a significant impact.”

There are 1,000kms of road and pavement within Westminster. The length of pavement alone is the distance of a journey from London to Glasgow and back.

When snow falls, it can often settle very quickly not everywhere can be treated at once so steep gradients, bus routes, areas outside train and tube stations, outside fire and police stations, hospitals, schools, and nursing homes, subway steps and ramps, footbridges, and crossing points are mapped as immediate priorities.

Grit levels have also been increased as part of a three-point winter plan devised by the council to deal with any issues before and after they arise. They are:

'Pretreatment' – unique to Westminster and is a response to definite warnings of snow, provided there is no wind or rain forecast that would blow or wash the salt away. This ensures that there is already salt on the roads in lower priority areas, that might not otherwise be treated for several hours;

'Precautionary' – salting is carried out in susceptible areas (e.g. Royal Parks or areas close to waterways) when a frost is forecast, or if confidence around a sub-zero forecast is low.

'Full Winter Service' involves the treatment of roads and pavements in accordance with a list of priorities – these routes cover the entire city.

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