Press release

Highways Agency is geared up for winter

Autumn may have been mild so far but Highways Agency teams across the North West are ready and prepared for when winter bites.

Staff from the Highways Agency’s winter services team in Manchester and Balfour Beatty Mott MacDonald - the Agency’s main contractors for Cheshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and south Lancashire - teamed up with Cheshire’s Compass Minerals on Wednesday to outline this year’s winter services operation.

In Cumbria and north Lancashire the Highways Agency’s winter service operation is provided by EM Highways whose staff have also been working hard to get ready for winter.

Much of the nation’s spreading salt is provided by the Compass Mineral’s rock salt mine in Winsford and the mining operation provided the back drop for this year’s Highways Agency winter services launch.

The Highways Agency is urging every driver to take action to ensure they too are prepared for driving in winter weather.

Highways Agency Severe Weather Manager, Andrew Olive, said:

The Highways Agency in is well-prepared for winter across the North West. We have 19 operational depots across the region with our salt barns fully stocked with 44,280 tonnes. In all we have 73 salt spreading vehicles and ploughs and 6 snow blowers.

We have improved our resilience over the years and our grit suppliers Compass Minerals have improved their above ground resilience with some 650,000 tonnes of rock salt now available above ground. Following previous years the Highways Agency itself has in excess of 250,000 tonnes at docks around the country.

We use detailed weather forecasts and treat the road network before road temperatures fall below freezing, often at night in preparation for peak traffic periods. But that doesn’t mean people should drive as they normally would - in severe weather drivers need to take care and plan ahead.

We will do all we can to keep the roads open during severe weather but if drivers can carry out a few simple vehicle checks, pack a few important winter items in their vehicles and plan journeys, we can work together to keep the region’s roads moving.

The Highways Agency provides real-time traffic information for the motorways and other strategic roads in England using a range of channels, including the web, social media and through national and local radio stations.

Nationally the Highways Agency has a winter fleet of over 500 winter vehicles working around the clock from 100 depots located across England, allowing quick access all parts of the strategic road network.

The Agency encourages drivers to take some simple steps during winter:

  • Check your vehicle – fuel and fluid levels, electrics and tyres – before setting out.
  • Be prepared with an emergency kit in your vehicle, including ice-scraper, de-icer, warm clothes and blankets, torch, boots, first aid kit, jump leads, a spade, a road atlas and sunglasses (for the winter glare).
  • Plan your journeys. Check weather and travel conditions before and during your journey.
  • If the weather is very severe, consider whether your journey is essential or travel at a different time. In winter, the weather can change quickly so always be prepared for bad weather
  • Remember that even when roads have been treated with salt, ice can still form, particularly on bends or under overhanging trees.

For more advice on being ready for severe weather, visit the ‘Get ready for Winter’ pages

For detailed information on local and national weather conditions, visit the Met Office website or listen to local radio broadcasts.

You can also follow our winter social media channels www.twitter.com/winterhighways (@winterhighways) and www.facebook.com/winterhighways.

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000.

Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways Agency press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.