WITH the first snowflakes of the winter falling last week, Scottish Borders Council is all set for the season as it puts its winter service plan into action.
The plan is the key document setting out what steps will be taken to maintain the 2,947km road network in the region and keep it free from ice and snow as far as possible within the available budget.
The winter period is classed as being between November 1 and March 31, but gritters have already been out on a number of occasions in the past month as the colder weather started to affect the region.
A full risk assessment of the existing primary road network took place in the summer which saw individual sections scored against common key criteria.
As part of this, Lothian and Borders Police were consulted on the evaluation process and their response fully endorsed the methodology and the weighting factors used. As a result, 37 per cent of the network in the region is now classed as primary salting routes, down 6 per cent from last winter.
Councillor Gordon Edgar, Executive Member for Roads and Infrastructure said: “It is impossible to treat all roads at once so we have strengthened our approach to having a sensible order of priority to keep traffic moving.
“The re-assessment of the priority road network was not taken lightly, and we are confident that by focussing in the first instance on these well used roads the majority of motorists can travel safely during the colder weather.
“These main routes, generally ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads, carry significant traffic, need to be kept clear for emergency services or are, in some cases, school bus routes. Once we have treated the primary network, treatment will then progressively extend into the remaining road network.
SBC has this year bought 50 additional salt bins. This will allow the Council to continue to evaluate requests for additional bins in communities. These requests go through an evaluation process which considers issues such as the number of properties in the area, if there are any junctions or sharp corners in that location, if the proposed site is already on a primary salting route, and whether or not it is an adopted road.
Currently there are seven operational depots across the Council which cover the 28 primary salting routes, the 20 primary footway routes and the 870 salt bins.
SBC also maintains eight salt storage facilities at Newtown St Boswells, Peebles, Hawick, Gala, Duns, Kelso, Jedburgh and Lauder with the maximum salt capacity of 19,000 tonnes.
Visit www.scotborders.gov.uk/winter for more information and advice over winter.