Highways Agency ready for winter

Area winter service manager Andrew Olive with the Highways Agency's store of rock salt
Area winter service manager Andrew Olive with the Highways Agency's store of rock salt
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WIGAN’S drivers are being urged to plan for winter as the authorities promise to be ready to act should the temperatures plunge once again.

The Highways Agency, whose priority in the region will be to keep the M6 and M61 open throughout the winter months, say they are better prepared to prevent the road system descending into chaos if Wigan sees a repeat of the heavy snowfall which has marked recent winters.

The agency has 5,000 tonnes of rock salt ready at its depot to put on the roads around Wigan, which is included in Area 10, which covers Greater Manchester, south Lancashire, Cheshire and Merseyside.

The authorities are also using the latest technology to help keep the roads open, with cameras stationed on the motorway network to provide early warnings of weather changes and liaising closely with the Met Office to keep up with the latest developments.

Although the agency is still analysing the early indication forecasts, it is taking no chances and using its Make Time for Winter campaign to ensure people are prepared for the worst case scenario.

Area winter service delivery manager Andrew Olive said: “As we all know, the weather can change very quickly, and we have learnt the lessons from previous years.

“We’ve got a severe weather plan in place covering all eventualities, and we are as prepared as we can be.

“The M6 is the main route north to south and we will do as much as we possibly can to keep it open.

“I don’t envisage us having any problems with the road, and hopefully it will stay free from snow and ice and remain open to the public, as it has been in previous years.

“We’ve got a fleet of spreading machines introduced in the last few years, and we’re now mixing the rock salt with brine, which reduces the freezing point of the carriageway and means we can keep roads open at lower temperatures.”

The agency is also keen for Wigan’s drivers to do their part to help keep the roads open by ensuring vehicles are serviced and ready for the cold weather, and that motorists venturing out in bad weather place a few extra items in their cars as a precaution.

Research undertaken by the agency suggests nearly half of drivers in the UK do not take heed of severe weather warnings, and 29 per cent make no preparations to their cars in the winter months.

Mr Olive said: “We recommend drivers check their vehicles and prepare them to cope with the conditions, leave plenty of time for their journey and always plan ahead.

“People should also put a few things in their car; some warm clothes, a shovel, an ice scraper, some food and a small first aid kit.

“There shouldn’t be a problem on the motorways but it’s always best to be prepared, especially if you are going off the major routes.”