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16 miles of tailbacks as roads grind to a halt.


AN overturned lorry caused 16 miles of traffic chaos and an entire days' misery on the A55, A470 and A5.

Traffic queues began to build up when the HGV carrying 26 tonnes of meat crashed into the central reservation at Abergwyngregyn, between junctions 13 and 14, just before 8am.

The accident shut the eastbound carriageway and the westbound one had to be shut shortly afterwards to allow emergency vehicles through.

It meant rush-hour gridlock for many angry motorists.

Traffic was diverted on almost a 40-mile route from J19 down the A470 through the Conwy Valley and onto the A5 to rejoin the A55 at Bangor.

It meant huge queues through Llanrwst, Betws y Coed, Bethesda and other towns and villages across Conwy county.

The 17-mile journey on that stretch of the A55 should normally take around 20 minutes, but many motorists were stuck for hours.

Highways officials also later shut the Conwy Tunnel to stop standing traffic building up fumes, and that caused further tailbacks on the expressway as far back as Rhos on Sea - 16 miles from the crash site.

Tailbacks stretched for three miles from J14 and the Pen y Clip Tunnels, Welsh Government officials said.

And there were four-and-a-half miles of tailbacks between Llandudno Junction and Rhos-on-Sea.

An estimated 500 litres of diesel poured onto the expressway at Abergwyngregyn, sparking fears of environmental damage if it had seeped into the Afon Aber.

Environment Agency Wales officers worked with the emergency services to deliberately block drains.

They used absorbent material to soak up the diesel.

The driver of the lorry, which bore the logo of firm Neal Haulage, suffered minor injuries. No one else was injured.

One witness, Barrie Durkin, a former Anglesey County Councillor described hearing the crash, which caused a loud bang "like an almighty thunder clap".

It is not known what caused the crash. The lorry smashed into the central reservation, overturned and came to rest on its side on the eastbound carriageway at 7.48am.

An Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust spokesman said the lorry driver, a man in his late 20s, was taken to Ysbyty Gwynedd for check-up.

During the worst of the tailbacks, some stranded drivers switched off their engines and walked along the carriageway to try to find out what was happening.

One, who had been travelling from Llangristiolus to Colwyn Bay and got stuck for at least an hour complained about the lack of signs telling people the A55 was shut in both directions, he said: "Nobody was telling us anything."

At 11.35am police said the eastbound A55 would remain closed until "late this afternoon" until the wreckage was cleared.

But they said the westbound A55 would be open "a bit sooner".

The westbound lanes were reopened between 12.30pm and 1.12pm.

The Conwy tunnel was closed from J18 at 10.47am and re-opened at 1.12pm.

But by the evening rush hour, traffic around Bangor and on the A5 and at Betws was still at a standstill and people were being advised to avoid the area.

The HGV was turned upright at about 5pm and removed from the carriageway just before 6.30pm.

The eastbound A55 was finally reopened just before 8.30pm.

It had remained shut until rescue teams could carry out essential repairs, unload the HGV's 18 tonnes of meat onto another lorry, remove the wreckage and clean up the spilled fuel.

Many people used Facebook and Twitter to tell others what was going on.

North Wales Police officer Mark Jones Tweeted at 12.55pm: "Over 26 tonnes of meat cargo is having to be transferred onto another lorry at this RTC. Only then can recovery begin."

Then at 1.15pm NWPolice Tweeted that "Abergwyngregyn jct13 westbound now open with 40mph restriction."

Throughout the day there were lots of updates by witnesses.

One said: "There is a 5 mile long stand still tail back between Llanrwst and Dolgarrog. Bus delayed by 35 mins. Llanrwst is entirely grid locked."

Another said: "Traffic being turned around at Llanfairfechan roundabout.

"Unfortunately, my friend is stuck behind the crash and cannot get off the A55, been stuck a couple of hours now...hope the driver of the truck is OK".

Angie Jones wrote: "Hope the driver is ok, thinking of him or her and the family."

Tracy N Hughes wrote on Facebook: "Hope there's no injuries." ON THE WEB See a video of the aftermath of the crash PLUS gallery of Daily Post and readers' photos How chaos spread to the Conwy Valley and Irish Sea Pages 6&7


Crash scene on the eastbound carriageway near Abergwyngregyn Crane lifts the overturned truck which was carrying 26 tonnes of meat Motorist walks along A55 as traffic is gridlocked
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 2, 2012
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