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Icy hell causes havoc on roads
1:10pm Thursday 24th January 2013 in News
Snow-ridden roads led to traffic chaos with hundreds unable to get home.
Drivers were forced to abandon their vehicles after a sudden snowstorm left roads impassable on Tuesday, January 22, turning some streets into virtual car parks.
But roads officials last night claimed there was nothing more they could have done.
About 5cm of snow fell in Sussex from around 4pm, with higher ground most affected.
Wheels skidded and cars slid as they failed to cope with the conditions.
People were stuck in their vehicles for several hours while trying to head home after ice and snow made the roads treacherous.
Many feared they would have to sleep in their cars in freezing temperatures overnight as traffic was at a standstill.
Motorists abandoned their cars and were forced to dig them out of the snow yesterday morning.
Sussex Police towed unclaimed vehicles from Falmer Road to American Express Community stadium.
Scores contacted The Argus to vent their anger and ask how the roads had become such slippery slopes.
Many accused the councils of failing to grit the roads, leaving them to become ice rivers.
But council bosses and the Highways Agency – which is responsible for maintaining major routes – insisted roads were salted regularly on Tuesday and instead blamed the heavy snowfall for the problems.
The Highways Agency said the A27, which saw queues of more than four hours between Brighton and Lewes, was gritted at 1pm and 4.30pm.
Finger of blame
It said the “exceptionally heavy snowfall” meant “even the best plans” would not keep roads completely free of disruption.
The agency also pointed the finger of blame at Brighton and Hove City Council by citing the poor conditions on local roads such as Falmer Road and Coldean Lane.
Brighton and Hove City Council said it had sent out all its gritters, including its “go-anywhere” machine fitted with a snow plough.
A spokesman insisted all its main roads were gritted three times on Tuesday but was unable to say at what times.
Series of accidents
The council said traffic jams from accidents and abandoned vehicles also contributed to the problems.
The ice-ridden roads caused havoc with a series of accidents on Tuesday.
In Falmer Road, an 11-year-old girl suffered head and pelvic injuries when she was hit by a car at the Cowley Drive junction at 4.15pm.
A 19-year-old girl was also taken to hospital after being hit by a car in Preston Drove at the junction with London Road at about 5.10pm.
There were also reports of a collision on the A27 just west of the King George VI Avenue junction, multiple collisions in Bear Road and some on Carden Hill too.
Argus reader Mike Newman sent in this photograph of a bus struggling in the snow on King George VI Avenue, Hove.
Police had to close the slip road onto the eastbound carriageway of the A27 at Hollingbury as so many cars were sliding on the hill.
More than 30 cars were left behind on the A27 between Lewes and Brighton, causing delays yesterday morning (January 23).
The scene was similar with cars ditched in Ditchling Road or abandoned in Falmer Road.
A further crash involving two vehicles happened in Ditchling Road at about 7.40am yesterday (pictured below). Neither drivers was hurt, but the road was blocked for some time.
What do you think? To what extent do you believe more could have been done to improve conditions during Tuesday's snow? Share your views below or with our readers by writing to to the letters editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Argus has been inundated with people stuck in the ice and snow traffic on Tuesday night.
Owen Uglow took three hours to get home from Brighton Racecourse to Woodingdean with his girlfriend.
He said: “It was an evening we will never forget, an absolute nightmare.”
Pat Hermann spent more than seven hours in his car and had to be rescued from the A27 after his vehicle broke down in the queues.
The 30-year-old left his work in Preston Park at 4.45pm on Tuesday and was eventually picked up at about midnight.
He said: “I was convinced I was going to have to sleep in my car.”
Jenny Money was stuck travelling to Lewes for three hours.
She said: “My son lives in Stockholm and they all know how to drive in the snow.
“There was far less snow here but a lot of people were panicking.”
Jackie Wrench’s nightmare journey home from Uckfield began when she passed the Lewes roundabout – taking her two hours to get from there to Falmer.
She said: “More and more people had to abandon their cars.
“One young man had run for half an hour to bring milk for his baby.
“There were people in the fast lane with shovels trying to dig the snow away from their wheels, there were tractors squeezing around cars, and people, complete chaos.”
Chris Coleman was stuck for three and a half hours trying to get from the A23/A27 junction to the Ashcombe roundabout.
He said: “There didn't seem to be heavy snow, less than an inch gathered between the lanes of traffic, but the road clearly hadn't been gritted.”
It took Lucy Brooks five hours to get home from Woodingdean to Worthing.
She said: “There was no information, no gritters, no police or Highways Authority visible. It was a frightening drive.”
Miriam Rawson was stuck on the A27 for hours.
She said: “It all seemed like a surreal bad dream yesterday morning.”
A butcher got on his quad bike to help a pregnant woman in the snow.
Adam Wickenden, pictured below, had been at work at 5am but went out on his quad bike 12 hours later to help his sister who was stranded in Falmer Road.
He then headed out again to help his friend’s husband and after spotting a pregnant woman struggling in the snow went out a third time to rescue her, only getting home after 10pm.
His wife Louise said: “You have to have a pretty big heart to go out in the freezing cold and help.”
Donna Stinton, the manager at Enara Community Care in Woodingdean, thanked the care workers, who abandoned their cars and walked in the severe weather last night and for the previous four days in all areas of Brighton.
She said: “They were walking to our elderly vulnerable clients, to ensure they receive the care they need. This shows dedication.”
Patricia Ancell was overwhelmed by the kindness of staff at Brighton General Hospital after going there for an appointment.
Mrs Ancell, who is in her 80s, was stranded when the snow fell as no taxis would go to her home in Woodingdean.
But nurses who were due to clock off at 6pm stayed on until 7pm and organised for a 4x4 ambulance from Portslade to take two hours to take her home.
She said: “They went beyond the call of duty. I am so grateful.”
Neighbours of Hertford Infant School praised headteacher Marcelo Staricoff, pictured above with his snow shovel, who has been outside every morning clearing snow.
Cobby Wilson said: “He was there from 7am with a shovel so children can get to school.
“He deserves recognition.”
Motorists are set for more misery as forecasters predict the cold weather will last until the weekend.
Temperatures will hover around zero degrees Celsius today (January 24) with a severe ice warning issued from the Met Office for this morning.
And tomorrow (January 25) will continue to be cold until the evening, when the temperature will rise to up to 6 degrees Celsius but it will rain heavily.
Our live blog has been keeping people informed with the latest traffic and weather news.
Tens of thousands have flocked to the site to get updates on how the snow and ice will affect them.
Our blog made sure all the traffic problems on Tuesday night were reported to you as soon as possible to help you plan your journey home.
We have given you the latest school closures so you can plan your day accordingly and we have told you of the most up-to-the-minute weather forecast so you know what to expect.
You can find out all the latest information, as well as photo and video galleries, by visiting The Argus online snow section.
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