Gritters battle to keep Devon roads clear
Devon County Council’s gritters have been working continuously throughout the night to keep the county’s main roads clear, as snow moved in from the east of the county at around 11pm last night and spread across most of the county.
Road surface temperatures dropped to -7.4 at Rundlestone on Dartmoor overnight and many areas remain below zero this morning, although the main snow showers have now passed.
The majority of treated routes are passable with care this morning and, where possible, gritters are now concentrating on salting secondary routes in Devon. Snow ploughs have also been working around the A386 between Mary Tavy and Lydford area.
There are a number of areas where conditions have been making travel difficult. Gritters have been clearing the A3122 near Dartmouth where an HGV was stuck earlier. The A361 North Devon Link Road near Junction 27 was down to one lane heading towards Gornhay as an HGV had broken down. Drifting snow is reported on another stretch of the A361 at Rackenford. There is also compacted snow in the A381 at Totnes Cross compacted snow.
Devon County Council, the Highways Agency and Devon and Cornwall Police liaised throughout the night but took the decision not to activate the Haldon Response plan. Telegraph and Haldon Hills were carefully monitored and it was decided that normal procedures of gritting were enough to keep the routes clear and traffic flowing this morning.
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A number of schools across Devon are reported closed this morning. They are All Saints Church of England Primary at Thurlestone, Aveton Gifford Church of England School, Blackawton Primary School, Dalwood Primary, East Allington Primary, Hawkchurch Church of England School, Honiton Primary School, Kingsbridge Community Primary School, Kingsbridge Community College, Kingswear Community Primary School, Littletown Primary, Meavy Church of England Primary in Yelverton, Membury Community School, Mrs Ethelstone’s Church of England Primary at Uplyme, Musbury Primary School, Parracombe Church of England Primary, Princetown Primary, Spreyton School, St Mary’s Catholic Primary in Axminster, Stoke Fleming Community Primary, West Alvington Church of England Primary, Widecombe in the Moor Primary, Yeoford Community Primary,
Kentisbury Primary School was due to open at around 10am and Lapford Community Primary is planning to open at 11am.
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A number of school bus routes have also been disrupted this morning, including in Ilfracombe, Holsworthy, Tavistock, Chulmleigh, Kingsbridge, Stoke Fleming, Harbertonford.
A full list of route delays and cancellations and schools closures can be found by logging on to www.devonschoolclosures.info/
Anyone using salt from a County Council grit bin to treat roads and pavements is reminded that it is only to be used for the public highway. Only small amounts of salt are required to be effective and it should be used sparingly.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: “It has been a very slick operation throughout the evening and I have to applaud the professionalism of our teams. We’re lucky to have such dedicated staff to help us keep Devon moving during this cold spell. Although most major roads are clear, conditions are still treacherous, particularly on roads which haven’t been salted. Even those which have been treated may still be icy so motorists must remember to slow down and drive with extreme caution.”
Chris Cranston, Devon County Council’s Highway Operations Manager, said: “We’re not expecting to see a thaw today and as we’re in for another deep frost tonight there could well be widespread icy conditions, particularly off the treated network.”
Motorists are reminded of the following advice:
* Avoid unnecessary journeys. If you have to travel, drive according to the conditions;
* Never assume a road has been salted. Remember that in extreme cold even salting will not stop ice from forming;
* Allow additional time for your journey and reduce your speed;
* If you have vulnerable or elderly neighbours, think about how they could possibly be helped through the cold spell;
* Listen to local radio for updates on current weather conditions.
For more information and travel advice visit: www.devon.gov.uk/winter_travel