Yoghurt lorry chaos on A3

By Farnham Herald in Community News

TRAFFIC on the A3 was backed up for three miles both ways when a HGV overturned on the northbound carriageway, at Thursley, last Friday.

The driver was taken to hospital and treated for minor injuries and the back of his trailer unit was checked in case it contained any illegal immigrants.

Motorist misery continued for hours with the 44-tonne lorry, carrying a load of yogurt, completely blocking both lanes northbound from 2.30pm.

Police reopened the southbound carriageway at 3.30pm but the northbound carriageway was not fully reopened until 9am the following day.

Traffic was originally diverted via the exit and entry slip roads at Thursley, but due to the sheer volume, the diversion changed to use the A333, A287, A31 and re-join the A3 at Guildford.

A Highways England spokesman said: “The transfer of the HGV’s load on overturned pallets took a while and some had to be done by hand. Once the load was moved the HGV had to be righted and removed. Queues seemed to peak at about three miles.

“Traffic was heavy but as far as we are aware the diversions operated smoothly.”

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service dispatched five crews to the scene including ones from Haslemere and Godalming. Surrey Police Roads Policing Unit officers also attended, as did paramedics from South East Coast Ambulance Service.

Haslemere firefighters were first at the scene. Officer in charge Owen Wilson said: “The recovery of the vehicle must have been horrendous. When we arrived, the driver had been pulled out by a passer-by. The Farnham crew checked the trailer unit at the back in case there were stowaways, but none were found.

“The diesel packs were leaking and we made that safe and made sure nothing had gone in the watercourses.

“If it had been a tanker full of yogurt, which had spilled, and that had got into watercourses it would have had a very damaging effect. Fortunately the load was contained.”

Thursley bore the brunt of the diversions to start with but the heavy traffic managed to negotiate the narrow lanes without further accidents. Parish council chairman James Mendelssohn said: “Luckily no juggernauts got stuck and villagers were sympathetic. Highways England can’t be expected to know in advance when a gigantic tanker overturns in the middle of the A3.”

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