Highways teams respond to 500 calls in 48 hours

Highways teams responded to more than 500 calls this week as Somerset was battered by severe wet and windy weather.

More than 100mm of rain fell across Somerset between Saturday and Monday night – that’s more than the monthly average of 90mm for November in just 48 hours.

Somerset County Council received around 420 calls about flooding on the highway with the remainder to report road traffic accidents, fallen trees, debris on the highway or road damage.

Many roads across the county were affected and the public were kept informed with regular updates via @TravelSomerset on Twitter and on a dedicated bad weather page at www.travelsomerset.co.uk.

In Cheddar, the B3135 was closed after floodwater and debris swept through the Gorge causing damage to the road surface. At this stage the road remains closed while the road is cleared and the damage assessed.

The River Anvill at Dunster overspilled on Monday night and flooded the A39 and A396, with some vehicles queuing for several hours while the road was impassable. Highways staff were in attendance and used diggers to clear the road as quickly as possible and get people moving again.

In total ten out-of-hours highways teams were in action during Monday night, working through until 4am. There were so many incidents that at one point it was feared the team would run out of signs, although it didn’t quite come to that.

Cllr David Fothergill, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “The emergency work carried out by our highways teams often goes unnoticed – and for good reason, as usually they are out in horrendous conditions when most of us are safely at home.

“This was an extreme storm and caused extreme disruption, but it could have been much worse without the tireless efforts of these staff.

“In West Somerset in particular, their efforts to clear two blocked roads helped prevent a very serious situation from becoming much worse.

“My thanks to them all and I hope they dry out soon.”