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Road salting

Dorset Highways carries out precautionary salting of the network to prevent the formation of ice, as well as salting to remove snow and ice from the road network.

6mm dry rock salt is used for precautionary and post event salting. Grit sand is added to the salt or laid on its own to aid traffic movement during heavy snowfall.

The winter service policy sets out how Dorset Highways responds to winter weather events.

When we salt

During the winter service period, Dorset Highways receives detailed weather forecasts for the five weather domains within Dorset. This data is based upon national weather forecasts and the data collected from 12 roadside weather stations positioned across the county.

Precautionary salting of the network is carried out when road surface temperatures are expected to fall below 1ºC unless:

  • road surfaces are expected to be dry and frost is not expected to form on the road surface
  • residual salt on the road surface is expected to provide adequate protection against ice or frost forming 

Our salting routes

 All A, B and well-used C class roads are treated, as well as:

  • links to hospitals, large industrial estates, transport interchanges, emergency services (including manned Coastguard and RNLI) stations and identified critical infrastructure
  • routes to all urban schools with more than 500 pupils and rural schools with more than 350 pupils
  • primary bus routes with a substantial frequency (school bus routes are not included)
  • main routes (that don’t meet criteria above) through towns and villages with populations of more than 750

This ensures that the roads used by the majority of the travelling public are treated, and accounts for around 25 per cent of the overall road network.

Secondary network

During prolonged periods where temperature remain at or below freezing community link routes – serving smaller villages and hamlets – will be treated as resources allow.

These routes will also be pre-treated – where resources allow – when snow is forecast and will be ploughed and salted following snowfall once priority ploughing routes remain clear.

Footways and cycleways

There is no precautionary salting of footways, pedestrian precincts or cycleways by Dorset Highways as it is impractical and financially draining to carry out.

However, there is a certain amount of salt overspill onto footways and cycleways when precautionary salting is being carried out on adjacent roads.

Post-salting of footways and cycleways will be carried out on a priority basis during severe weather as resources permit.

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