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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 5 February, 2003, 20:40 GMT
Agency apologises for road 'inconvenience'
Road gritter
The Highways Agency said the roads were gritted
A failure to grit some of Shropshire's roads is being blamed for a number of accidents and road closures.

The main Shrewsbury to Welshpool road and the A49 in south Shropshire were both blocked on Wednesday after collisions.

The A458 was also closed for about two hours, also as a result of an accident.

Motorists contacted BBC Radio Shropshire claiming that the A49 and the A5 had not been gritted on Tuesday night.

'Road sensors'

Eric Smith, from BBC Radio Shropshire, said: "There was a milkman who rang and said it was the worst he had seen for 30 years.

We gritted when it was appropriate to do so based on the information provided by the forecast

Dennis Wheeler, Highways Agency
"Police were out at accident scenes and could not stand up because it was like a skating rink."

The Highways Agency has apologised for any inconvenience caused on the roads but said it did have gritters out on the road on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.

The Agency's Dennis Wheeler told the BBC's Midlands Today programme: "We have got a network of sensors on the roads which take information about the road temperature through to a centre.

"We also receive information from the MET office and local authorities so we get a global picture or forecast of what the weather is like. As a result of that information we determine when to go out and grit."

'Freezing rain'

He added: "We started gritting about 1400 GMT on Tuesday and went on and gritted the following morning.

"We gritted when it was appropriate to do so based on the information provided by the forecast."

Temperatures are due to plummet again on Wednesday night, getting down to around -5C, and gritters have already been out on the roads.

Mr Wheeler said: "We know the weather conditions are likely to change and there will be freezing rain.

"We want people to be aware this is coming and be careful when out on the road network. We will have gritters out at 2000 GMT (Wednesday) and then again at 0400 GMT on Thursday."


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