Thursday, January 14, 2010

The sorry state of grit in the UK

Before the posting, some simple definitions:

Grit - a.k.a. sand
Gritting - a.k.a. sanding
Gritting the roads - a.k.a. sanding the roads

For the past 3-4 weeks, all the UK news reports describe the dangerously low levels of grit in the UK.  With this recent spate of bad weather, snow and ice, and impossible road and sidewalk conditions, the UK has apparently blown through their stock of grit for the winter season.

Of course, more can be ordered,  but that takes time and when your supplies are already at a low ebb, getting more grit in when the roads are impossible is....well...not really an opton.  So, the rationing of grit has begun.  Only the major motorways and high streets (is another translation needed for the Yanks?  that is, highways/interstates and main streets) are being allocated grit.  Neighborhoods and side streets are a  "first come, first serve, fend for yourself" basis.

Not that I personally mind working from home and staying off the roads, but cabin fever has begun to settle in.  Once I get to the motorways, usually it is very is just getting out of our neighborhood that is a bit "slippery" to be totally accurate.  Hey-ho, other than the impact to my running, I have been pretty self reliant in the house.

It does beg the question, though, "Why were the grit levels so low to begin with?"  We had a HUGE snowstorm last year in the UK and knew what it took to grit the roads then....why the problem less than 12 months later?  Short answer:  for cost-cutting and budgetary reasons, the UK authorities who order the grit (whatever agencies these are) literally bet...took a calculated gamble if it were...that the UK would not get another snowstorm a second year in a row.  Oops...guess they bet wrong...This could have been avoided apparently by ordering a bit more grit in the first place and keeping it in reserve...

I know..always easy to be a Monday morning quarterback.  Truthfully, those of us in London were not terribly inconvenienced....but for those in the North, it has been a big issue.

No comments: