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Big thaw follows a nightmare night on the Bath area's roads

By Chron_News  |  Posted: January 23, 2013

The scene in Bloomfield Road last night. Picture @johnmit

The scene in Bloomfield Road last night. Picture on Twitter @johnmit

Comments (35)

The big thaw was under way today after a truly horrific night on the Bath area's roads.

But the number of abandoned cars across the city, particularly on Bathwick Hill, means there are still problems this morning.

Last night buses became stuck all over the city, prompting people power rescue operations and forcing some passengers to walk several miles through the snow.

The fresh fall yesterday afternoon caused problems in virtually every corner of the city.

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At one point, there were said to be 20 buses queued up on Wellsway, where one had become stuck.

The problems were compounded further down the A367 at Dunkerton where more vehicles were stuck and mirrored in Bloomfield Road, Lansdown Road and Bathwick Hill.

Bus passengers heading for Peasedown and Radstock walked from Odd Down through the snow.

At the Royal United Hospital, some staff worked double shifts to cover for staff unable to get in.

Today, police warned that Lansdown Road remained hazardous around Julian Road.

Bath and North East Somerset Council is reporting that all the main routes should be safe, although smaller side roads remain untreated so drivers should use caution.

However, one of the biggest problems this morning seems to be the number of abandoned cars on the roads, with Bathwick Hill being one of the clogged routes causing trouble for motorists.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokeswoman said there were around 30 abandoned vehicles on Bathwick Hill, including two in the middle of the road, so officers were trying to contact the owners to get them moved.

There had been conflicting reports that a bus had crashed on the hill, but police have said this is not the case.

People have been asked to avoid the area while the situation is being dealt with.

There are also reports of a broken down vehicle on Lansdown Hill, which is also causing delays.

A B&NES Council spokesman said they had done everything they could to keep traffic moving last night, including gritting runs on Monday night and Tuesday morning.

"The driving conditions late Tuesday afternoon and the evening were extremely challenging. Prior to the snowfall on Tuesday afternoon, the two gritting runs that were conducted on Monday night and Tuesday morning provided sufficient grit to keep the roads safe for users and double what was normally laid down. The highways team also tested the level of salt to ensure that it was sufficient to work properly. Our next gritting run took place at 6pm as planned to coincide with the heavier volume of traffic.

"Unfortunately, there were significant delays on some key routes due to buses that had jack-knifed, the very high volume of traffic on the road which went onto the network at the same time, and some vehicles were being abandoned.

"This meant our gritters had problems getting through to address some of the problems that were reported to us, particularly on slopes.

"All the gritting fleet was working and the teams did manage to get through and cleared the obstructions as fast as possible."

He added: "In order for grit to work, the action of passing traffic mixes the salt in with the snow and starts to turn it to a slush that passes through the highway drainage.

"It is for this reason that a 6pm gritting run took place to coincide with the traffic.

"Because of the lack of movement on the network due to these factors, a situation was created where the roads became slippery and drivers became frustrated.

"We understand the frustration that drivers must have felt and thank people for their patience during this difficult night.

"We tweeted updates throughout the evening and relayed concerns directly to the gritting team to assist them in identifying the most difficult situations."

First said most services were running normally this morning but diversions are in place on some routes and others are being assessed after a night in which it was forced to abandon large parts of its operations.

It said the sheer volume of traffic using main roads rather than short cuts had contributed to delays last night.

The affected routes this morning include the No 4 service between the city centre and Bathampton, which is using Down Lane rather than Holcombe Vale, the No 6/7, which is not running to Fairfield Park, the No 10, which is using Whiteway Road, The Hollow and Mount Road because it is unable to go down Sladebrook Road or Southdown Road, and the No 14/14a, which is not going down Bloomfield Drive and is going via Wells Road instead.

The vast majority of schools across the area have opened as usual this morning, although both The Link School and Three Ways School have delayed opening until 11.30am.

Oldfield School is closed today, except for exams, while St Stephen's Primary School, in Lansdown, has low staff numbers because of the weather so is asking parents to keep children at home where possible.

A number of school transport services have also been cancelled, including the C221H to Ralph Allen via Woolley and the C831L to St Gregory's Catholic College via Writhlington.

Sirona Care and Health has said it is putting into place emergency measures for community health and adult social services today.

The district nurses will be continuing with all urgent visits and will contact patients directly if they are unable to get there.

The Carrswood Centre, in Bath, and Connections, in Radstock, will be closed today, as will the Falls Clinic at St Martin's Hospital.

However, The Walk-in-Centre, in Bath, and the Minor Injuries Unit at Paulton Memorial Hospital will be open at normal times.

If people have concerns about whether they will be able to make an appointment they are being asked to call and rebook.

For further information about health services they should call St Martin’s Hospital on 01225 832383, Paulton Memorial Hospital on 01761 412315 or Keynsham Health Centre on 0117 461000.

by SybarTuesday commented on This is Bath last night: “Left bath spa station by car @ 1807 finally got home to PAJ @2200!! Wellsway was grid locked and took 3hours to get to the top where there was total chaos due to a bendy bus which had slidded and totallyblocked the road (why are these buses still allowed on Bath roads.)"

aurea_flamma posted on the site today: “Chalk and Cheese.

"Having travelled in from London to Bath Spa, I would just like to thank.......

"The taxi driver who charged me £3.30 to travel from the railway station to the bottom of a long since closed Wells Road, before saying he couldn't go further, and there were no other routes open £3.30 please sir! - Cheers!

"And as I walked the long cold route . . . the very kind couple who made the decision to drive out along the road looking to help people forced to walk, and very kindly gave me a lift.

"Thank you very, very, much!”

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35 comments

  • adsbath  |  January 23 2013, 10:06PM

    Ignore Imp-Act - proper troll

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  • Imp-Act  |  January 23 2013, 9:00PM

    Every WINTER I find it so funny to watch the idiots 'trying' to drive in the little dusting of snow we get and the BIG shock that all the roads are not cleared and the bus isn't there and they have to (dare I say it?) WALK!!!!!!!! O M G! WALK!!!!!! What is this world coming to??????? WHY didn't the local council send a helicopter for my little son???????? The city to Odd Down is like up hill and has to be about 584.896742 miles AND the snow drifts were unbearable (they were just under shoe lace hight). WHY didn't the road sweeper lick my pavement clean for me??? What is going on?????? LOL! FOOLS!

    Rate   -6
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  • aurea_flamma  |  January 23 2013, 8:07PM

    MoeXXX - Very well said! There is clearly a problem - I would be happy to have my expectations managed with some pragmatic honesty and openness!

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  • MoeXXX  |  January 23 2013, 7:48PM

    If you wade through the rhetoric, flimsy excuses and bizarre assertions, you realise that the council is actually saying it cannot react quickly enough to counter specific local forecasts. Why not just say so? I don't care if the real reasons are boring and logistical or financial: if we don't know what the actual problem is - and there most definitely *is* a problem - then we're never going to solve it are we?

    Rate   4
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  • aurea_flamma  |  January 23 2013, 6:36PM

    Dear Council_Spoke, congratulations on your efforts to defend the indefensible! Here is an interesting post by aurea_flammaWednesday, February 08 2012, 7:03AM note the year! This was from a posting here http://tinyurl.com/7ua9tym where the council had failed to cope with minimal snow levels. The general practice accepted by the industry is that for precautionary gritting the vehicles should complete precautionary gritting of priority routes three hours before the falling snow, and often councils complete in less, then need to apply repeat applications at a higher application rate during falling snow. The salt application rate for frost/dry or precautionary salting is 15 g/sqm and the salt application rate for salt in snow is 40 g/sqm Some councils scrimp and use 10g/sm as a pre treatment. If the council is expecting 15g/sqm (or less) to last from the night before through Saturday traffic and be adequate for falling snow - then that's maybe why it didn't work late on Saturday afternoon! Those seem to be the facts I will leave others to draw conclusions on the effectiveness of BaNES highways management." Now a year later again minimal snow I actually measured it at just under 4cm and again gridlock on the roads. There was enough info in the various posts 12 months ago to show that what BaNES is doing isn't right as proved by the results this week! Now if you were arguing your procedures from the perspective of successfully clearing the roads - I couldn't comment because I would be eating humble pie.

    Rate   4
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  • CaptainD  |  January 23 2013, 5:37PM

    Still nothing from Cllr 'Phsyclepath' Symonds. At the very least we deserve a pic of him stood next to a stranded vehicle or a jacknifed bendy bus, surely.

    Rate   3
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  • council_spoke  |  January 23 2013, 5:05PM

    Hi, All. Some additional points to address the remarks below: 1. Only at lunchtime on Tuesday was there any certainty from weather forecasters about the location, timing, and depth of snowfall. This was when the Met Office issued an Amber Alert with more detail about the conditions. What materialised was a substantial 7cm snowfall in a very short period of time. 2. The Council could not wait until this late stage to take a decision about the timing and amounts of grit required to cope with this snowfall. Therefore, we decided to conduct an early morning salt run with double the rate of grit spread. There was more than enough grit on the roads from the salting run on late Monday night and early Tuesday morning. 3. Starting a salting run at 3pm as suggested would have made no difference to the situation faced by drivers on the priority route network. All our gritters would have been doing is over-saturating the network with salt. Because a gritting run takes about 3 hours, our gritters would have had to restock at a crucial time of the evening when more salt was required on the network from 6pm onwards which was timetabled as our next salting run. 4. The priority network already had substantial amounts of salt on the roads when snow came down. Because the worst of the weather occurred when thousands of cars entered the network to get home at the same time, there was less opportunity for the salt to be subject to the action of passing traffic which mixes it with the snow and starts to turn it to a slush that passes through the highway drainage. 5. Other parts of the south west effected by similar levels of snowfall experienced the same driving conditions and resulting congestion; places such as Yeovil, Wells, and urban areas in Gloucestershire ground to a standstill.

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  • GinaA  |  January 23 2013, 12:40PM

    It wasn't the time to get home that was the issue - it took me 4 hours but I'll get over it. It was the fact that the roads were too dangerous to drive on. I heard lansdown lane was a death trap, why was this road even open?!

    Rate   6
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  • Skelator  |  January 23 2013, 12:31PM

    Was there planning issues needed to get the gritters out , Wilts seemed to get it right i wonder why BANES cant, do they not have snow consultants.

    Rate   5
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  • nadiac1  |  January 23 2013, 12:31PM

    For £40 snow socks are not an expensive luxury if you expect to be able to drive in the snow(something I will look into)I paid that for a pair of snow boots to wear for when there is snow and I wouldn't be without them Also how about residents themselves clearing their paths and streets as we did on the weekend? Too many people just expect someone else to do everything ,as a friend who was clearing the area in front of her flat was told "You shouldn't be doing that,it's the council's job"

    Rate   8
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