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Multiple gritting runs covering a total of nearly 1,500 miles of highway and using nearly 500 tonnes of salt were used between Thursday afternoon and Saturday morning last week to keep the network open during the height of the big freeze.

The Island experienced some of the coldest temperatures on record for early March, leading to the most intense period of winter maintenance activity ever undertaken by Island Roads.

Between Monday 26th February and Saturday 2nd March, Island Roads worked around the clock to treat the Island’s main roads as temperatures plummeted, running up to 11 gritters continually during the worst of the weather, supported by 2 tractors and 3 diggers to minimise the impact of the ‘Beast From The East’, which brought drifting snow, freezing rain and sub-zero temperatures to the Island.

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Teams from Island Roads worked in extremely challenging conditions to keep the main roads moving, with crews also treating pedestrian routes in the main population centres. On Thursday and Friday alone, 7 separate gritting runs were undertaken by crews.

Over the freezing period Island Roads also answered calls to help other public services including St Mary’s Hospital in Newport, the Earl Mountbatten Hospice, the Household Waste Recycling Centre at Lynbottom and some of the Island’s leisure centres.

Dave Wallis, Island Roads operations and maintenance manager has said:

“Although this was the first time we have had to deal with any significant snowfall since the contract started in 2013, we are well prepared and our employees were ready to put the winter maintenance plans into action.

“Despite all the planning, our employees still put in a huge amount of time and effort during extremely poor weather conditions – often going above and beyond – to keep the network moving as weather conditions changed through the week.

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“We provided regular updates to residents via our Twitter account @IslandRoads and were delighted by the number of positive responses we received. The messages of thanks were really appreciated by our employees and it made them even more determined to do the very best job for residents.”

Councillor Ian Ward, Cabinet member for infrastructure and transport at the Isle of Wight Council, said:

“I was very impressed by both the preparations made by Island Roads and its response to the snow and ice last week. The crews worked in atrocious conditions to minimise the disruption caused by the weather and I know they also went the extra mile to help key services to stay accessible.”

Councillor Ward added that the costs both of the extra snow-related activity and also of treating any defects that arise on the project network as a result of the freeze-thaw action would be met by Island Roads under the terms of the contract.

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