Gritters keep roads clear across region in heavy snow as Orwell Bridge closure fears ease
- Credit: Archant
Gritters have been out around the clock keeping the roads of Suffolk and Essex throughout the heavy snow storms – and the threat of an Orwell Bridge closure at the end for the week has eased.
Almost all major roads in south east Suffolk were cleared by lunchtime today and the gritting lorries then went out on secondary routes – complete with snowploughs to clear away excessive snow.
The situation is not as good in the Beccles and Lowestoft areas where gritting teams had to carry on dealing with the major routes until well into this afternoon.
A spokesman for Suffolk Highways said the fact the gritters had got most of the major roads “back to black” was good – but warned that with temperatures unlikely to go above freezing and a very hard frost forecast for tonight into tomorrow morning there was a very real danger of black ice making the roads treacherous again.
But Suffolk Highways’ 37 gritters would continue to treat the roads as long as the snow persisted.
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They were all fitted with snowploughs before heading out to the county’s secondary routes and were expected to return for more overnight runs on the major routes to try to prevent black ice forming.
There was a similar story in Essex where the county’s fleet of gritters was sent out of their depots on six runs in 48 hours along major roads in the county’s 2,000-mile network.
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Highways England has its own fleet of gritters to keep major routes clear – the A14 in Suffolk, the A120 in Essex and the A12 in both counties.
Its teams were also out around the clock.
A spokeswoman said: “We more or less covering routes all the time – as lorries come in they are restocked and go out again and there are drivers ready to work in shifts all the time.”
One piece of good news for drivers is that the Orwell Bridge on the edge of Ipswich is not expected to close at the end of the week when a big storm is due hit Britain from the south west.
That is expected to bring blizzards to the south west of England and the midlands – and to bring further snow and winds of 40-50mph to this region.
But experts at Highways England do not think at this stage that the winds, expected to hit on Friday or early Saturday, will be strong enough to threaten to close the bridge.