The package of measures will further establish the route – which helps drivers avoid the heavily congested M6 through the West Midlands – as one of the best maintained roads in the UK.
Extra safety patrols, a more sophisticated weather reporting system and upgraded gritters will help the 31-strong operations team keep the road flowing freely throughout the season, including the all-important festive period.
If the temperature drops, pre-wetted salt will be used by gritters for the first time this year, which can be safer, quicker and more effective in keeping roads ice-free. Large tanks have been installed on-site to produce a special brine solution, which is then carried on the gritter lorries and sprayed onto the rock salt as it leaves the rear of the vehicle.
“Pre-wetted salt can be applied faster, at lower temperatures and with less waste”, says the M6toll’s Chief Operating Officer, James Hodson. “That means safer roads and less impact on the environment, potentially reducing our rock salt usage by hundreds of tonnes a year.”
Whatever the weather, the Incident Response Team (IRT) will continue to provide 24/7 peace of mind for M6toll’s 50,000 daily users, trained to deal with everything from major incidents to a broken down vehicle.
“We don’t just leave you to fend for yourself if you break down on M6toll – you really are in safe hands,” says James Hodson. “We patrol the route 24 hours a day, which means we’ll usually be with you in less than 15 minutes to check everything’s ok.”
Responders will often stay with motorists until recovery arrives, providing hot drinks and blankets while they wait – or take them somewhere safer if necessary.
“It’s no fun breaking down on the motorway in the middle of winter,” James continues, “but a friendly face, a warm blanket and a cup of tea can make all the difference. That’s just something you don’t experience on other roads.”
The IRT is also responsible for identifying other safety issues, such as debris on the road or blocked drainage. Extra patrols will often take place during stormy weather, supported by an on-call supply chain that can provide specialist equipment and expertise, such as vacuum tankers, pipe jetters, recovery vehicles and even tree surgeons.
The whole operation is supported by the road’s dedicated 24/7 control room and CCTV monitoring centre, which identifies incidents and helps to co-ordinate the response along the 27 mile stretch of motorway.