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Council / Roads team praised after gritter filmed sliding in icy conditions

‘Gritter drivers work tirelessly throughout the day’, councillor says

Photo: Shetland News

A COUNCILLOR has spoken out in praise of local roads staff after a gritter was caught on video spinning off a North Mainland road on Monday morning.

Dashcam footage of the gritter was taken by Alistair Williamson near to the Ollaberry/Hillswick junction, with the video being viewed on Facebook over 17,000 times already.

The gritter was seen spinning across the road in the darkness, with the driver seemingly managing to avoid any serious damage.

Think da council needs tae pit mare grit doon da night afore, redder dan da twa puckles dat dir been doing up tae noo.

Posted by Alistair Williamson on Monday, 18 November 2019

Shetland has been plagued with icy conditions most mornings and nights recently, with the council’s gritting team kept busy in efforts to keep the road network safer.

Chairman of Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee Ryan Thomson paid tribute to the gritting staff on Monday night.

He said credit needs to be paid for the gritter drivers who work on untreated roads “often in treacherous conditions” – while staff also have to drive on these roads to get to work before the council’s fleet of gritters can go out.

“The conditions recently have been exceptional,” Thomson said.

“The temperatures rising during the day with enough rain showers to wash the grit off the roads, then the wet roads freeze at night, leaving ice and lethal black ice in many places on our roads.

“The gritter drivers work tirelessly throughout the day to make sure our roads are safe for us to travel on. They’re out and about while many of us are still in our beds, getting home late only to start the process early again the next day.”

The North Isles councillor said the gritting staff are “essential to both the SIC and our communities, and do a fantastic, thankless job”.

“I would like to thank them for their efforts and hard work during this cold-snap, and throughout the winter months,” Thomson continued.

“Tribute also to all those who must go out regardless of the road conditions. The social care workers, the emergency service workers, and all those staff who generally work night-shift.

“Salt lowers the freezing temperature of water, which helps stop frost forming on the roads. However, salt loses its effectiveness once the temperature falls below a certain temperature.”

North Mainland councillor Emma Macdonald, meanwhile, said she had received questions from the public about gritting priorities.

Gritters generally go out at 6am, and the main priority roads are pre-salted where necessary.

A map of gritting priority can be found on the Shetland Islands Council website.

There are three priority roads – red, yellow and blue. Red, which are principal roads linking the main centres of population, industrial sites and ferry terminals.

Yellow roads will not be pre-salted, while blue areas – side roads linking isolated communities to larger networks or minor roads in housing schemes – are not normally to be treated for frost unless conditions are severe and persist for several days.

The council also offers an online ‘icecast’ service where the road temperature and surface state in Unst, Toft, Sandness and Gulberwick can be found.