Gritting roads and pavements in freezing weather

Spreading salt (also known as grit) makes roads and pavements safer in freezing conditions by preventing ice. We distribute salt by lorry on Swindon's major routes. We also provide grit bins in public places for local residents to spread salt on public paths and roads themselves.

Road gritting

There are 550 miles of roads in Swindon. We have identified around 210 miles of major routes that most of the borough's residents and businesses use frequently. We grit these routes when the road surface temperature is likely to freeze.

We schedule gritting based on reports from our remote weather forecast stations. We receive a specialist five-day forecast and two daily forecasts.

Gritting routes

Our gritting routes cover:

  • major A and B roads
  • access roads to most villages
  • main roads to hospitals
  • frequently serviced bus routes
  • access roads to COVID-19 testing and vaccine centres

We review these routes every year. Areas that do not come under gritting routes are unlikely to receive treatment in freezing conditions. However, you may use grit bins to treat local roads and pavements. The M4 and A419 are managed by National Highways (formerly Highways England).

Salt boxes

We provide salt boxes (sometimes called grit bins, grit boxes or salt bins) at over 500 locations in the borough. These bins contain salt that residents can use to make public roads and pavements safer. You can find your nearest grit bin on an online map.

How to use a salt box

You only need a thin layer of salt to treat an icy area. If you are putting salt onto snow, it will not thaw instantly. You should clear the area, add a dusting of salt and walk over it to work it into any remaining snow.

Take care to not block drains or push snow into piles in areas where people may walk or drive. You should not use salt from grit bins on private footpaths, driveways or properties.

Empty or damaged salt boxes

We normally check salt boxes during summer to re-fill or replace them before winter starts. However, in the winter we rely on the public to notify us of problems with salt boxes. You can report an empty or damaged salt box online. See notes at the end about reporting grit bins.

For more information on how the winter service works, view our winter service plan 2021-22.

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