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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 July, 2005, 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK
Gritters to combat melting roads
Scorching weather conditions have forced council gritters to be sent out to roads in Cumbria and County Durham because some are beginning to melt.

Usually dispatched to rid country roads of ice and snow, gritters are now being called on to protect vital transport links from searing summer heat.

Temperatures are so high that bitumen surfaces have started to become viscous and are sticking to vehicles.

Crushed rock dust is being used in an effort to protect road surfaces.

'Non-stick layer'

In County Durham, gritters were despatched to parts of Peterlee, Durham City and Derwentside as temperatures have soared in recent days.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Cumbria County Council said: "The gritters are usually deployed during cold snaps to combat freezing on the county's roads.

"Now, however, the fleet will be spreading crushed rock dust in an effort to protect road surfaces.

"Stretches of newly-laid road surfaces are particularly vulnerable to the process, known as plucking-out.

"The crushed rock dust should help protect roads and vehicles from damage by putting a fine non-stick layer between road and tyre."

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