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Valentine's Day crashes cause chaos on Great Yarmouth roads

PUBLISHED: 09:19 17 February 2012

A serious road traffic accident involving a lorry close to Haven Bridge in Great Yarmouth.
Traffic backed up along South Quay

Picture: James Bass

A serious road traffic accident involving a lorry close to Haven Bridge in Great Yarmouth. Traffic backed up along South Quay Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012

CHAOS erupted on the roads of Great Yarmouth on Valentine's Day after crashes caused both the Haven Bridge and Breydon Bridge to be closed at the same time.

Drivers were sitting in traffic for hours as emergency services worked to clear the roads after a spate of crashes.

A man died after being trapped under a lorry on Haven Bridge at around 12.50pm. The bridge re-opened at 4.45pm.

Four vehicles including a van and a Peugeot 306 were involved in a smash on Breydon Bridge at 2.30pm which was closed until 3.14pm.

Further delays were caused after a man in his 70s stepped out in front of a car at Hall Quay at 5.05pm. He was taken to the James Paget with non life-threatening injuries.

The afternoon saw the town gridlocked and drivers stationary in their cars for up to three hours. PCSOs were drafted in to help manage the traffic.

Sergeant Geoff Bowers of Acle Road policing team said: “A lot of people are very patient and understanding. When there is a fatal accident, the road is usually closed for a minimum of two hours but it’s often more likely to be four or five hours.”

Sgt Bowers said it was rare and unfortunate both bridges were blocked at the same time. He added: “An accident involving an HGV is more complex.”

People on the Great Yarmouth Mercury Facebook site were calling for a third river crossing after being stuck in the congestion.

Julia Formosa said: “I left Euston Road at 1.45pm and arrived at Claxton engineering on North River Road at 3.10pm. Traffic was everywhere right down to the seafront and along it. It was also down Nelson Road Central. Even when I tried to come home at 5.30pm it took me 30 minutes and traffic on Euston Road only cleared at 6.30pm.”

Carl Hacon said: “At 2pm we were on South Quay heading towards Haven Bridge but 39 minutes later had not reached the library so turned round and stayed in Yarmouth. At 4.30pm we tried to head back to Martham but ended up bumper to bumper on the seafront until we reached North Drive.”

Eyewitnesses said that drivers were “beeping, shouting and cutting in front of each other”.

Borough council leader Steve Ames was on his way back to the Town Hall when he became stuck in traffic.

He said: “I was in the middle of it. We joined the traffic at Trafalgar Road where we sat for half an hour. We did a u-turn and got through to King Street and walked back to the Town Hall so I have first hand knowledge of the problem.

“It’s a very unfortunate set of circumstances.”

Mr Ames expressed his sympathy to the families of the people involved in the crashes.

He added: “I have lived in the borough for 20 years and it’s the only occasion in my experience that both bridges have been blocked. It is incredibly unfortunate. It caused a lot of inconvenience to a lot of people.

“If this is the only time in 20 years then it really isn’t too much of a problem but I think things could always be improved.”

Bus services in the borough were disrupted as they were unable to move continue on their routes.

Chelsea de Silva, spokesman for First Buses said: “When services are disrupted we put notices out on our website and Twitter. Our operations manager then decides on diversions and the driver lets the passengers know and anyone who boards the bus.

“In the incident where both bridges were blocked we have to follow police diversions. Our buses in Great Yarmouth were not able to move from about 1pm until 5pm. It was 6pm before our services went back to normal.”

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