Could this brine-pumping winter buster be the answer to our icy woes?

Brine tanks.
Brine tanks.

Meet the new addition to our winter-busting road team.

With snow forecast for the weekend, highways contractor A-one+ says will keep the region moving this winter after investing in new technology it believes will make gritting the roads safer and more effective.

Brine tanks.

Brine tanks.

Four specialist brine tanks have been installed in depots across the North East, producing a salty solution that, when mixed with dry salt, begins to work the minute it is placed on to the road.

The highways specialists, who maintain motorways and trunk roads on behalf of Highways England across the country, are among the first to use the technology in England.

With temperatures set to plummet this weekend, the brine tanks will be used to protect the region’s strategic road network for the first time.

Traditionally, gritters spread dry salt on to roads in cold conditions, which only begins to work after traffic has driven over it, grinding it down in to a liquid solution.

The ready-made liquid brine – kept at the optimal 23 per cent salinity - that A-one+ is now able to produce helps the dry salt start to work straight away on the roads, offering better protection to all motorists.

By mixing brine with dry salt, the roads are given immediate but long-lasting protection from ice.

The four tanks are in place at Highways England depots in Carrville, Bradbury and Kneeton, off the A1M in County Durham and North Yorkshire, and an A-one+ depot in Alnwick, Northumberland.

Each tank holds 22,000 litres of brine – enough for six gritters to each complete a full circuit of up to 120km.

Peter Hancock, network operations manager for A-one+, says: “These tanks are a significant investment for A-one+ but in terms of accuracy and the confidence we now have in our gritting operation they are worth it.

“We know that the brine produced by the tanks is at exactly the right level of salinity to work immediately on the roads.

“Dry salt doesn’t do anything by itself when you throw it on a road, it has to be driven over before it will work.

“The brine solution works straight away so everyone can be more confident that the motorways and trunk roads will be safer than ever to drive on in icy conditions.”