Traffic chaos as road closure caused by tractor blaze sparks gridlock

Closure of the A41 near Market Drayton after a tractor blaze led to eight hours of chaos for residents living on the diversion route.

The tractor fire on the A41. Photo: Market Drayton Fire Station
The tractor fire on the A41. Photo: Market Drayton Fire Station

Villagers in Wistanswick had to go out to direct traffic when the lanes became so choked with lorries, farm vehicles and other traffic that there was complete gridlock.

They want to see better thought go into diversion routes when the busy trunk road is closed in an emergency, and a weight limit placed on the lane through the village.

A large tractor and trailer was engulfed in flames when the fire broke out as it was travelling on the A41at Rosehill on Saturday morning.

The traffic in Wistanswick

Diversions were set up sending traffic travelling both north and south on the same road, through Wistanswick.

Residents said that the lanes were simply too narrow for large vehicles to pass and there was soon gridlock.

The end of half-term and the good weather saw holiday traffic and farm vehicles add to the normal HGVs and cars that use the A41.

Only last month similar diversions had to be put in place because of a serious accident.

The traffic in Wistanswick

Parish councillor Richard Wright lives in Wistanswick.

"It was absolute chaos for about eight hours," he said.

"There was complete gridlock for three quarters of an hour when the lorries just couldn't pass each other on one section of the lane. In the end some of us residents had to go out and direct traffic. We stopped it in one direction, let the others go through for a time and then did the opposite.

"But we couldn't stand out there all day and it quickly built up again. We were putting ourselves in danger going out to deal with the mess."

Some residents rang West Mercia Police to ask for help with the traffic but said none was forthcoming.

Councillor Wright said the villagers found themselves stuck in their homes, unable to get out because of the traffic.

Firefighters fight the tractor blaze on the A41. Photo: Market Drayton Fire Station

"If someone had had to get out in an emergency or had needed the emergency services, it would have been impossible," he said.

He is one of the Stoke-on-Tern parish councillors who have been pressing for a plan to be drawn up for different diversion routes when the A41 is shut and said there could be a system whereby traffic going in one direction uses the lanes through Wistanwick but the traffic going in the other direction were sent through a different route.

"A one-way system is possible," he said.

"I have tried at least twice to get a meeting together with councillors, police and highway officials to look at how we can prevent this chaos and gridlock happened when the main road has to be closed."

The parish councillors also want to see a weight limit placed on the lanes.

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