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STORM ST JUDE: Winds cause travel chaos
A LANDSLIDE blocked the main road between Weymouth and Dorchester causing road chaos for drivers.
A combination of torrential rain and hurricane-force winds led to the collapse of about 20 trees on to the carriageway at Monkton Hill before the morning rush-hour got underway.
Motorists were forced to find alternative routes as police shut the A354 between the relief road at Littlemoor and the A35 football ground roundabout at Dorchester throughout yesterday morning.
Dorset Highways workers were alerted to Monkton Hill and began the task of cutting up trees and clearing them away. The road was clear and open to traffic by 11.30am.
An onlooker said: “It happened on the hill just before the start of the relief road.
“It looked like an entire hedgerow just collapsed, blocking the road and the cycle track.
“It was a substantial collapse, about eight to nine feet high. You couldn’t see the road in front of you. I’ve never seen anything like it.
“Fortunately it happened at a time when no-one was on the road.”
A Dorset County Council spokesman said 15 to 20 saplings were brought down.
She said heavy rain softened the soil and strong winds caused the trees and an amount of soil to come down on to the road.
She added: “As well as clearing the obstruction we ensured nothing else could fall down from the embankment. The embankment is very steep in this area and we made sure it was safe.
“Arboricultural manager Steve Maros will also be checking this area.”
And the A35 on the Dorset-Devon border was closed in both directions for a few hours yesterday afternoon so dangerous trees could be cut back.
The storm led to numerous oak trees hanging over the road in Kilmington, near Axminster.
The Highways Agency closed the road from the A3052 Charmouth Road junction to the A30 junction in Honiton while it cut the trees back, as the trees were hanging in a ‘precarious’ position.
A spokesman for Devon County Council said: “The road was closed by the Highways Agency at 3.40pm while they cut the trees back.
“Last night's storm lead to several trees hanging over the road in a precarious position, so they have closed the road to cut them back so they do not fall on to the road.”
n Weymouth couple Wendy and John Hendy were onboard a Calais to Dover ferry when the storm hit.
Mrs Hendy said the ‘terrible’ sea journey took them two hours longer than usual due to the bad weather.
She added: “It was a very bad sea journey and the waves were so high.
“Some people were clearly suffering but the crew kept us well informed and I had every confidence in them.
“I was just so glad to get to solid ground.”
She said: “We decided to catch the early ferry because we were told the weather was set to get worse.”
Line blocked by fallen trees
DORSET’S rail network was plunged into chaos as fallen trees crippled lines.
The disruption was so widespread on South West Trains’ network yesterday including the Weymouth-Waterloo line that passengers were told not to bother to turn up at stations at all.
More than 50 trees and other debris blocked lines, said SWT.
Maintenance teams were out in force to clear obstructions including a tree which came across the near Dorchester South station.
Anticipating disruption, the company had a revised timetable in place but first ran test trains to check conditions on routes. It led to the discovery of a number of obstructions.
A limited shuttle eventually ran between Weymouth and Bournemouth in the evening but trains were reduced to a maximum speed of 50mph as a safety precaution in case of obstructions on the tracks.
By the time the first train from Weymouth commuters had seen travel plans disrupted. No replacement buses were provided.
There were queues of people at Weymouth train station as passengers faced travel delays due to the storm.
SWT said there was a ‘phased reintroduction’ of services on some routes once it was safe to do so.
A spokesman said: “Test trains were running since early in the morning to check the condition of routes.
“Maintenance teams and engineers dealt with around 50 fallen trees and the impact from other debris across the South West Trains network, which covers the area worst affected by the storm.”
The spokesman said the safety of passengers and staff was the ‘absolute priority’. It was hoped services would be back to normal today.
Customers with single or return tickets dated Monday October 28 can use them today.
First Great Western said most trains were able to run on the Weymouth to Bristol line but were subject to delays.
A number of them had to be cancelled.
Hard at work clearing trees
WORKMEN worked hard throughout the day to clear roads and make sure motorists could get to work.
Teams went out across the county to tackle fallen trees and debris, including at the Dorset Echo offices in Weymouth where a tree had blown down in the car park.
Tom Gillett, 22, and Joe Townsend, 24, were one of the teams who went out from Knighton Countryside Management. The company is contracted by councils to help with the work.
Tom got a call at 5am and went to pick up Joe, on his way he had to clear three tress that were in the road in the dark.
One of the jobs they did was to help cut up the trees blocking the Weymouth Relief Road so that motorists could get through.
They used chainsaws to chop up the trees and then another team came along with a chipper and chipped the logs.
Tom said the Ridgeway fallen trees were a big cluster. He said: “We had to fight our way through there.”
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