True grit in heatwave

Usain Salt and Snow Farah gritters

Transport for Buckinghamshire are getting the gritters out of summer retirement to tackle the effect of the prolonged hot temperatures on the roads. Road surface temperatures are much hotter than the ambient air temperature, and are now regularly exceeding 50c by mid-afternoon in places, causing some road surfaces to soften.

As bitumen bleeds through to the road surface it can look black and slick, particularly on roads that are subject to a high level of turning and braking movements from traffic, or that do not get any shade.


Buckinghamshire County Council’s Deputy Leader and Transport Cabinet Member Mark Shaw said: ‘This is not a problem unique to Buckinghamshire, roads are suffering all over the country at the moment as this unbelievable weather persists. Look out for our gritters spreading sand and dust over the roads in Bucks over the coming days and weeks, to absorb the bitumen and help prevent deterioration of the road surface. My huge thanks go to TfB [Transport for Buckinghamshire] teams working in sweltering temperatures to keep the roads safe.”

The gritters will continue operating until the extreme hot weather conditions subside and road surfaces return to a more normal temperature.

The country is currently experiencing the longest period of consistently hot weather since 1976, with temperatures frequently reaching 29C and above, with no sign of things cooling down soon. This hot weather is also impacting on the progress of the summer road resurfacing programme, because temperatures are too high to lay down certain types of surface treatments.

While there are not currently expected to be any long-term effects to the condition of the highway network, road users are being asked – as usual – to take care while travelling, including car maintenance. While vehicle breakdowns are no more likely in hot weather than any other time, conditions would be hot and uncomfortable if it happened. Cars should be checked before longer journeys and motorists should carry plenty of water to keep hydrated, says the county council.


Top tips:

The county council has issued advice to people to combat health risks from hot weather: wearing UV sunglasses, drinking plenty of cool drinks, looking out for those with serious illnesses and never leaving anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, including pets.


Gritters Usain Salt and Snow Farah

July 11, 2018