WHEN it eventually opens – currently scheduled for November this year after two false starts – the St Ives-Cambridge guided busway will have a specially-adapted gritter to keep the new £116million facility free of snow and ice. The new gritting machine, w

WHEN it eventually opens - currently scheduled for November this year after two false starts - the St Ives-Cambridge guided busway will have a specially-adapted gritter to keep the new £116million facility free of snow and ice.

The new gritting machine, which has now been tested on the busway track, has been fitted with guide wheels, like the ones on guided buses, so it can drive along the track and clear it before buses use the route when cold snaps hit.

Salted water will be sprayed on the track to clear the ice - rock salt would drop into the gap between the rails of the track and onto the grass. As the salted water is being dropped only onto the concrete beams, less money will be spent and there is less of an ecological impact, Cambridgeshire County Council says.

Bob Menzies, the council's head of delivery for the guided busway, said: "I am very pleased with the way the trial went last week. The gritter moved along the track very smoothly. The next step will be fitting the water tanks and specially-adapted spray so it drops the salt water on the concrete tracks, and not between them.

"Adapting the gritter with a tank for salted water is fairly straightforward, but we will test the system before it is put into action this winter."

CCC said salted water was commonly used by local authorities to clear ice from roads and was just as effective as rock salt. Cambridgeshire already mixes salted water with rock salt to make sure it sticks to the roads to make it more effective.

The concrete busway track has been designed to cope with the salt water and will not mean any additional maintenance, a spokesman added.