Oxfordshire’s gritters truly went the extra mile this winter having trekked 90,000 miles – nearly four times around the world.
The scale of the work carried out by the county council teams was revealed last week now the worst of the weather is – hopefully – over.
In total, the gritters were sent out on 76 occasions from November to March, a marked increase on the 45 times the previous winter.
The council also had to put the snowploughs on to the gritters four times, something that had not been needed in the county since 2012/13.
More than 16,000 tonnes of rock salt were used and in excess of 90,000 miles covered by the gritters this winter, equating to 3.7 times around the world.
Paul Wilson, the man who oversees the council’s gritting operation, said: “It was certainly a winter with a far different character than most of those we’ve had this decade.”
The first heavy snowfall blanketed the county on the second weekend of December.
Mr Wilson said: “We sent the gritters out with the snowploughs attached and managed to get all the main roads clear – but that was quite some snow event for Oxfordshire and there were some particularly low temperatures in the nights following that meant the snow hung around for a while.
“We had another very active period between Christmas and New Year before further busy times during January and February.”
The Beast from the East struck vast swathes of the county in February, but it was Storm Emma at the start of March that was more testing for Oxfordshire, Mr Wilson said.
He thanked those who helped in the winter operation, including farmers, but particularly the gritter drivers who were out on the roads at some very unsociable hours and in inhospitable conditions.
The county council’s gritters cover 1,200 miles of road on one gritting run – covering all A-roads, B-roads and some C-roads. Highways England covers the A34, A43 and M40.