FLEETS of gritters have been updated and thousands of tonnes of salt have been stockpiled as highways chiefs prepare for winter.
Efforts are under way to ensure the region’s roads keep clear as the temperatures plummet and in readiness for snowy weather.
On Wearside, three new replacement gritters have been introduced to Sunderland City Council’s winter maintenance fleet.
They join 14 others as part of the service run from Trimdon Street, on the outskirts of the city centre, and Market Place in Houghton.
The council has stockpiled 15,000 tonnes of salt to help keep the area’s roads clear.
It plans to run a 24-hour treatment programme for main commuter routes, including the A690 and A1231, during severe weather.
The Sunderland base will use its salt stocks to cover the city and parts of Washington, while Houghton will serve in the coalfield area and the remainder of Washington.
It also plans to divert Street Scene staff to snow and ice-clearing duties when required.
Councillor James Blackburn, cabinet member for city services, said: “As we all know, it’s not unknown for us to get severe winter weather lasting days or weeks and the city council always puts robust plans in place for this.
“Our salt stocks have always proved to be adequate in the past and we monitor levels continually throughout the winter.”
In addition to its 17 gritters, the council also has 12 mini-tractors which can be equipped with snowploughs, has a network of 150 grit bins for use on roads, pavements and steps, but not for private use on paths or drives.
Durham County Council has upgraded its gritters with 10 new vehicles to maintain its 40-strong fleet.
It also has five snow blowers, and contract arrangements with farmers to draft them in the clear snow with their equipment if needed.
It has 42,000 tonnes of salt stored and also has grit bins placed so residents can clear their areas.