Transport for Buckinghamshire (TfB) has a winter plan and dedicated teams working 24 hours a day, keeping the County’s 3,000km road network safe.
Over recent months, crews have been working non-stop to ensure our key workers can travel to where they are needed most, despite winter bringing with it an array of challenges, such as storms, heavy rainfall, snow and icy conditions.
Over the years, storms have become a regular feature during the Winter season and, as well as the wet weather, they also bring additional duties for the TfB crews including road closures, debris clearance from fallen trees and attending to flash floods after periods of heavy rainfall.
Unfortunately, due to the extreme variation in weather and temperature the winter season can bring, the roads can be prone to an increase in potholes. This is caused by traffic use over time creating cracks in the road, then wet weather will cause water to seep into the cracks. This water then freezes when the temperatures drop and expands making the cracks bigger. Vehicle movement over these frozen defects can then cause them to collapse and form a pothole. When there is an increase in floodwater on the carriageway, this can contribute towards an increased rapid deterioration of large areas of road surface. This is particularly an issue when groundwater levels are very high and the fields next to roads are saturated, as they are currently with many roads remaining constantly wet.
Throughout winter, as well as the clear up from storms and pothole repairs, the TfB teams have daily tasks. One such task is to monitor the road surface temperature, to determine whether gritting will be required that day. When the road surface temperature drops below +0.5°C, with ice likely, gritting will be required, and an alert sent to the crews to prepare the gritters to begin their routes. This can happen even when the air temperature is a bit warmer.
Despite the crews’ best efforts, there is never any guarantee that roads will be completely clear of ice or snow. This is due to several factors, such as a late change in forecast or if the crews need to wait for rain to clear before gritting. Salt and grit cannot be applied during rain as it would be washed away. In severe cold weather, salt becomes less effective, and below -8°c even salt will not prevent ice from forming. Salt can also be less effective when there is less traffic on the roads, as it requires traffic driving over it to work properly.
Even with the current pandemic travel restrictions, the winter period really is non-stop for the operational and extended support teams at TfB who are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – including Christmas Day!.
Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Transport, Nick Naylor said: “The hard work demonstrated by our winter crews at TfB is outstanding. Without their dedication, travelling around the County at this time of year would be near impossible. Many team members sacrificed the festive period with their families to keep our network moving and I really appreciate all that the teams do. Thank you!”
TfB aims to keep the travelling public updated with news regarding road closures, gritting updates and general roadworks via social media so, please follow TfB twitter @tfbalerts or the Facebook page, Transport for Bucks