Keeping the roads open

How salt keeps the Sussex traffic moving in freezing winter weather

Salt is more than something to sprinkle on to your fish and chips, this common household ingredient helps keeps England’s roads moving.

As temperatures are forecast to remain cold across the country Highways England’s army of workers are ready 24/7 to descend on to motorways and major A roads across Sussex in a fleet of gritters, to keep traffic moving. Here’s the story of how the operation works.

The company stores around 280,000 tonnes of salt at its 127 depots, spread across the country at strategic locations but salt has already come on a long journey before it leaves the depots
The company stores around 280,000 tonnes of salt at its 127 depots, spread across the country at strategic locations but salt has already come on a long journey before it leaves the depots
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Salt works by lowering the freezing point of moisture on the road surface, so that it has to be colder before it can turn to ice
Salt works by lowering the freezing point of moisture on the road surface, so that it has to be colder before it can turn to ice
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Salt (sodium chloride) comes from salt mined hundreds of metres underground. The salt is extracted generally by using a continuous mining machine
Salt (sodium chloride) comes from salt mined hundreds of metres underground. The salt is extracted generally by using a continuous mining machine
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The salt travels along conveyors to a machine where it is crushed and inspected to ensure it is the correct grade to be used on roads
The salt travels along conveyors to a machine where it is crushed and inspected to ensure it is the correct grade to be used on roads
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