A CRACK team of transport workers armed with new high-tech kit are set to keep Edinburgh moving over winter - and they say they are confident of coping with whatever the weather throws at them.
Fleets of specialist vehicles, thousands of tonnes of salt, state-of-the-art satellite tracking for gritters and thermal mapping will all be deployed over the coming months.
In the Capital alone, 14,000 tonnes of grit has been stockpiled - to be scattered on more than 380 miles of priority roads by 30 trucks and 19 mini-tractors.
Transport and environment convener, Lesley Macinnes, said: “The winter may be just beginning, but we never can tell what conditions it will bring – as we’ve seen in previous years - so it’s essential that we are well prepared.
“That’s why we’ve been busy planning for the months ahead, ensuring our fleet of winter weather vehicles are set to go, salt stocks are topped up and staff are trained.”
Temperatures of the city’s roads will be recorded by truck-mounted thermal imaging sensors and digitally logged throughout winter - allowing for better gritter route planning in years to come. Standby arrangements for treating roads, pavements and cycle routes are now in place 24 hours a day, while salt bins across the city are being topped up when needed.
“This year our gritters and tractors will also benefit from new telematic technology, meaning we can track and direct resources where they are most needed,” said Cllr Macinnes.
“And while we have everything in place to deal with severe weather, I would encourage the public to find out as much as they can about keeping safe and warm over the period too by visiting our web pages and following the Scottish Government’s Ready Scotland advice online.”
As part of the £2.6m plans, a severe winter weather tactical response team of 150 staff has been formed to help keep the city moving should a “weather emergency” hit.
Farmers have also been enlisted, as in previous years, to support the council’s winter weather response by gritting country lanes. And residents can keep up to date about gritting routes and nearest salty bins through the council website’s live winter weather interactive map and social media updates.
Midlothian Council meanwhile has budgeted £907,000 for its winter plans - expecting to stockpile 3,000 tonnes of salt though fewer roads, footpaths and car parks will be routinely gritted than in previous years. Cllr John Hackett said: “Keeping people and goods moving around the county during the winter months are vital to ensuring normal business continues in Midlothian and residents are kept as safe as possible.
Alan Stubbs, service manager for Roads at East Lothian Council said the authority is “prepared for any adverse winter weather.”
West Lothian Council plans to have 30,000 tonnes of salt in stock by today - three times the amount needed for a ‘normal’ winter.
Cllr Tom Conn said: “Services across the council are also prepared to ensure essential services can still be delivered in the event of severe weather.”