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Winter Maintenance

We provide a winter gritting service during the period from early October to early April, to clear ice and snow from the public highway network. The gritting service covers 178 miles of the borough's roads, which is 38% of the network.

Our Winter Maintenance Policy establishes what we will do during periods of bad weather to maintain the safe movement of all highway users, public transport, cyclists and pedestrians.

Where do we grit?

Seven primary routes are gritted. These include:

  • All strategic routes
  • Major bus routes
  • Roads leading to fire stations, ambulance stations and hospitals. 
  • Roads on significant hills/inclines and known trouble spots

It's not possible to grit every road within the borough with the resources available. Find your nearest grit bin and the roads to be gritted. You can also use the interactive map below to view the winter gritting routes.

Motorways are the responsibility of Highways England, including M6 junction 23 Haydock Island.

When do we grit?

Duty engineers monitor the weather 24 hours a day and treat the highway when it's needed.

Detailed forecasts are provided by MetDesk on a daily basis. The forecast gives predictions of the possibility of freezing road temperatures, snow, rain etc and the time that these conditions are likely to occur. This enables the Duty Engineer to decide if or when gritting will be carried out.

There are two non-invasive sensors within St Helens. The sensors provide information on air temperature, road temperature and surface conditions. This data is used to provide forecasts which are specific to St Helens. Duty Engineers also have access to data from other sensors within the Liverpool City Region.

In times of prolonged bad weather, the council's local response arrangements may be influenced by central government control of salt and grit supplies through the activation of the salt cell.

How do we operate?

When the Duty Engineer makes the decision that gritting is required, the fleet of seven gritting vehicles is mobilised. This can be day and night, though gritting usually takes place in the late evening or early morning to avoid heavy traffic and delays disrupting the gritting operation. However, the gritting teams are ready at all times.

The gritting operation takes between two and four hours for all seven of the routes to be treated with salt.

How to prepare for winter?

Be prepared for the winter season by getting your vehicle serviced to ensure it is fit and safe for winter driving. In addition to a service you should carry out regular checks on the vehicle, ensuring that: 

  • There is no wear and tear on wiper blades
  • Tyre pressure is at the manufacturer's recommended level
  • You have three millimetres of tread depth
  • All vehicle lights are working and clean

Consider carrying a winter car emergency kit within your vehicle, including:

  • Ice scrapper and de-icer spray
  • High visibility clothing
  • Extra warm clothing
  • Blanket
  • In car mobile phone charger
  • Torch

When temperatures are close to or below zero, drive carefully and never assume that a road has been gritted. Ask yourself if your journey is absolutely necessary. Even roads that have been gritted can have ice present.

Before leaving on your journey listen to weather forecasts as they can often warn of icy conditions and wait for your windscreen to be clear before driving.

Slow down and allow for extra space between you and the vehicle in front, you may need to allow extra time for your journey. Avoid harsh braking, acceleration and steering as these can all cause your vehicle to skid. 

School Closures

The decision to close a school is at the discretion of the head teacher, in consultation with the Chair of Governors. School closure are publicised on the School Closure Page, though schools will contact parents and guardians directly regarding any closures.