Gallery: St Albans and Harpenden braced for further snow

PUBLISHED: 09:42 18 December 2009 | UPDATED: 14:47 06 May 2010

Photo courtesy James Bader

Photo courtesy James Bader

RESIDENTS of St Albans and Harpenden are bracing themselves for a weekend of freezing conditions as the cold snap continues.

Roads were treacherous this morning but Herts Police have confirmed that the majority of roads in the county are now open and passable with care.

RESIDENTS of St Albans and Harpenden are bracing themselves for a weekend of freezing conditions as the cold snap continues.

Roads were treacherous this morning but Herts Police have confirmed that the majority of roads in the county are now open and passable with care.

A spokesperson said that only two roads were causing problems for drivers, one of which is the A405 between Park Street and Watford.

She continued: "We continue to monitor the weather forecast for the county and would suggest that members of the public keep listening to local news and forecasts for the rest of the day and the weekend.

"Please continue to take care on the roads and as a further precaution, ensure you are wearing sensible and warm clothing and footwear carry extra provisions such as a flask of hot drink, food, blankets and a shovel."

Some have criticised Hertfordshire Highways' gritting efforts, as was the case in the heavy snowfall of February this year.

Sam Evans from St Albans said she was surprised to hear that the county council had been responsible for sending out gritter lorries at 8pm the previous night. She said: "Surely the responsible thing to do would be to lay grit before the snow?

"I live on Holywell Hill. Last night, the hill was an ice-rink, completely ungritted as far as I could see - the only gritter lorry I saw came around at 1am - surely a case of shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted?

"The police closed the hill to traffic heading up it and traffic was redirected along Belmont Hill which was, and remains, ungritted. Belmont Hill has speed bumps, traffic parked on both sides, and a steep narrow hill to tackle at the end. This ridiculous diversion led to cars being abandoned on both Holywell and Belmont Hill. I noticed this morning that one car left safely parked in Belmont Hill has been badly damaged at some point in the night.

"Despite the road closure, two buses headed up the hill andgot stuck, blocking access even more. The drivers spent over an hour trying to move their buses and the noise and diesel fumes were unbearable.

"Clearly, snow cannot be avoided. However, had the council done the responsible thing and gritted all major routes, and had the police and council co-ordinated road closures, things could have gone a lot smoother. Holywell Hill is notorious for accidents, even in good weather, the Peahen junction is always a danger spot in snow, and Belmont Hill is a notorious rat run - especially if Holywell Hill is shut. The council's website claims to have gritted all of these roads which is blatantly untrue.

"I have a friend who lives on London Colney High Street who tells me that there was no grit on the road last night before the snow fall - despite the council's website claiming that all main routes in and out of villages would be gritted before the snow.

"According to the national news, there is no shortage of grit in this country. What is apparent is that there is a shortage of common sense at Hertfordshsire county council"

But Herts Highways have insisted that their gritting teams worked through the night to make the roads as safe as possible for the morning rush hour.

Gritters went out three times (at 8pm, 10.30pm and 2.30am) on the main gritting route (A and B roads, all major bus routes, at least one road in and out of villages, industrial areas and shopping centres) and snow ploughs were also sent out at 2.30am. From 6.40am, lower-priority roads and pavements in priority areas, such as around schools, hospitals and shopping areas, were being cleared.

"We've been working hard to keep main routes clear for the morning rush hour although we are aware of travel problems in areas where the snow has been heavy, particularly in the north of the county," said Cllr Stuart Pile, Executive Member for Highways and Transport. "We advise residents to travel only if your journey is essential. If you do decide to travel, please check local travel news first and allow extra time for your journey."

Cllr Pile continued: "Motorists should also make sure they're prepared for a breakdown. We advise keeping an emergency kit in your car, which could include warm clothing and blankets, boots, a torch, de-icer, battery jump leads, a spade, a first aid kit and emergency rations of food and drink.

"It's been a busy night, with our gritters rolling pretty much throughout. As well as our gritting teams, I'd like to thank farmers and our colleagues at district councils who have been helping us overnight. We will continue to monitor the forecasts during the day and send out our gritters and snow ploughs as necessary."

They are now preparing for further gritting around the county tonight.

Cllr Pile added: "More snow flurries are possible, but the main concern is the freezing temperatures that will lead to widespread ice around the county. These are difficult conditions to drive, walk or cycle in - please consider whether it's necessary to go out. If you are taking to the roads, drive slowly and allow plenty of time for braking."

If you have taken photos of the snow, send them to us on hertsad@archant.co.uk and we will publish the best we receive.


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