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Gritting and salt updates - what roads are gritted and why

​​​​​​​​​​​From mid October to mid April we aim to keep the highest priority roads safe and free from snow and ice. A number of trial gritting runs, with no gritting salt being spread, take place prior to the start of the winter period to help drivers become familiar with the gritting process.

Gritting routes​

Where we grit depends on the weather forecasts, access and conditions. View the roads on all our salt gritting routes in the document below.

​​​​​​Salt bins

We've installed salt bins across the borough to help you during periods of ice or snow.

​​​​​​​​Get answers to frequently asked questions


What roads will be gritted?

Where we grit depends on the weather forecasts, access and conditions. We have 3 gritting routes and we use information from the Met Office to decide which one we need to do.

  • Standard Treatment Routes - principal roads, most bus routes and routes to emergency service premises, key medical facilities and key public facilities.

We do this when weather forecasts say ice may form or snow may fall on road surfaces across the whole       borough.

  • High Roads Treatment Routes - high altitude roads or roads which have sections where frost or ice regularly form.

We grit these roads when the weather forecast says ice may form, or snow may fall on these roads.

  • Priority Treatment Routes - the borough's major roads network, which is needed to keep key public services maintained.

The priority routes are the first routes to be treated in severe weather conditions. The standard highway treatment routes will only be treated after the priority routes have been cleared and made safe.

It is rare we have to carry out a treatment of the priority routes only. The standard treatment routes will be treated in the majority of normal winter conditions, including snow.

We can struggle to grit a few roads including Norton Rose and Barn Meadows due to the width of the gritter and double parking. In these cases we do request residents to try to avoid double parking during gritting times. You can keep up-to-date with when we grit on Twitter by following #RochdaleGrit

Motorways are the responsibility of the Highways Agency. Any problems relating to motorway gritting and maintenance should be reported:

Can I ask for a road to be added to the treatment routes?

Unless roads meet specific criteria it will not be possible for us to add them to our existing gritting routes.

Why sometimes do only priority treatment routes get gritted? What about other roads or bus routes?

This explains when only priority routes will be gritted: 

  • During certain severe weather conditions - such as prolonged heavy snowfall when the rate of snowfall on the highway is greater than the rate the snow that can be cleared using ploughs and salt treatment. In these conditions the critical road network and other specific requirements must be prioritised to ensure the priority routes and other key public services can be maintained.
  • The forecast indicates the need for increased salt use - where the weather forecast indicates we will need to use more salt than we have available in our current salt stocks, we must prioritise the priority routes. This applies until more salt stocks have been delivered but we've ordered significantly more salt to reduce the chance of this happening.
  • National control mechanisms – sometimes we are forced to reduce the amount of grit we use because of a national shortage in supplies. This means we can only treat the priority road network to ensure key routes and other key public services are maintained.

Are council car parks and schools gritted?

No, as it's not the council's policy to treat car parks and schools as part of our standard gritting routes. 

How does the council decide when to grit the roads?

We monitor weather conditions 24 hours a day and inspect roads to decide when we are going to grit and how much grit we need to use.

We try to grit during the evenings from about 6.30pm or in the morning at approximately 4.30am. Gritting at these times means we get the best performance from the grit. We may, depending on the weather, carry out more gritting throughout the day and night.

We try to avoid gritting during rush hours because our gritters get severely delayed and stuck in traffic. 

We also sometimes have to wait for rain to stop before gritting so that the grit does not get washed away.

Why can't the council grit every road?

It's not possible for the gritters to spread salt on every road and pedestrian area. To overcome this, we've provided over 500 highways salt bins at key locations throughout the borough.

We provided salt bins for residents, motorists and pedestrians to spread the salt on the public highway and pedestrian areas.  The salt in salt bins should not be used on private property, such as driveways.

How long does it take to grit our roads?

It takes approximately 4 hours in total to complete a standard gritting treatment.

When is the salt put down?

Salt is spread on to road surfaces before the road becomes icy or snow starts to fall. This is known as precautionary salting. Depending on traffic, it takes our gritters about 2 hours to spread salt on the priority routes. We aim to treat the network before sub zero or snowy weather is forecast to arrive.

Except in the case of sudden changes in the weather, when an immediate response may be called for, salting will normally start at either 5am or 7pm.

How effective is salting the roads?

For salt to be most effective it needs traffic moving over it. Prolonged and heavy downfalls of snow will naturally affect the effectiveness of grit salt. As it dissolves it becomes less effective because it is diluted.

Can I make gritting requests above the levels of service defined by the council's policy?

We are not able to respond to requests which are above the level of service because they can affect our ability to keep key roads clear and salt stocks maintained.


How many gritters do we have?

We have a fleet of 7 gritters which cover over 197 miles of the road network. 

Why do we sometimes see gritters on the road but not spreading salt?

 This could be for one of 2 main reasons:

  • This happens typically when gritters are either travelling to and from the depot, travelling between treated parts of the network, or travelling back over a section which has already been/will be treated.
  • It sometimes looks like they’re not spreading because they have a 'low throw' spreading device which distributes the salt on the road at a lower level than traditional gritters. This ensures the majority of the salt is kept on the roads and is more difficult to see than traditional spreaders.

How cold does it have to be before gritters are sent out?

There is no set temperature at which gritting starts. Factors include variations in weather across the borough, altitude, existing and new snow fall, the dew point, road surface temperature, current and forecast salt supplies.

Pedestrian areas

What pedestrian areas will be treated and when?

Pedestrian areas will be treated in exceptional weather conditions on a priority basis and subject to available resources within the council. Pedestrian areas will not be treated for normal overnight frosty conditions.

Decisions to grit pedestrian areas will be based on the following criteria:

Priority 1 – busiest areas in town and district centres, principal shopping areas, and outside bus interchanges and train/tram stations. Priority 1 areas will be treated subject to available resources for the following events:

  • Snowfall: Snow is expected to settle and remain for a period of 24 hours or more.
  • Frost/ice: Frost or ice has formed and is expected to remain for a period of 24 hours or more.

Priority 2 - Priority 2 areas cover the same type of areas as covered by Priority 1 but over a greater extent. Priority 2 areas will be treated when all Priority 1 areas have been treated. Priority 2 areas will be treated subject to available resources for the following events:

  • Snowfall: Snow has settled on the ground for a period of 24 hours and is expected to remain for a further 48 hours or more.
  • Frost/ice: Frost or ice has formed and remained for a period of 24 hours and is expected to remain for a period of 48 hours or more.

Priority 3 - Priority 3 areas cover the highest footfall areas on public footways outside secondary schools, further education centres (i.e. colleges), hospitals, medical centres and hospices. Priority 3 areas will be treated when all Priority 1 and 2 areas have been treated. Priority 3 areas will be treated, subject to available resources, for the following events:

  • Snowfall: Snow has settled on the ground for a period of 72 hours and is expected to remain for a further period of 72 hours or more.
  • Frost or ice: Frost or ice has formed and remained for a period of 72 hours and is expected to remain for a period of 72 hours or more.

Can I clear snow and ice from pavements myself?

Anyone can clear snow and ice from the pavement outside their home or public spaces to prevent slips and falls. Don't be put off clearing paths because you're afraid someone will get injured. Remember, people walking on snow and ice have a responsibility to be careful themselves.

Will the council treat pavements if it's frosty?

No. Normal overnight frosty conditions don't warrant the need for treatment of pedestrian areas.

If the forecast indicates prolonged bad weather then street cleansing and grounds maintenance staff from parks will be called upon to help with manual snow clearance and salting of the pavements.

This will be done on a preventative basis for priority areas such as town centres and around stations.

Parks and cemeteries

We don’t usually grit any of our parks but on occasion we may do so where a significant hazard has been identified by a member of the public.

In heavy snow or icy conditions, specific cemetery areas may be cleared of snow and/or gritted to allow funeral processions safer access to burial sites. Snow clearance and gritting will also be carried out around the immediate crematoria entrance and exit area. All other cemetery areas where services are not due to take place will not usually be treated.

Related pages


0300 303 8879

Phone: Monday-Friday 8.30am-5.30pm.
Closed for training Monday 11am-11.30am.

Highways and Engineering Service
Number One Riverside
Smith Street
Rochdale OL16 1XU

0300 303 8875

Out of hours emergencies
Monday 11am-11.30am
Monday-Friday 5.30pm-8.30am
Anytime weekends and bank holidays

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