Traffic resumed completely early this Wednesday morning on the A40 motorway, in the Ain, after having been cut since Tuesday late afternoon in both directions of traffic at Bellegarde-sur-Valserine because of snow and sleet. Some 130 heavy goods vehicles which had been stored are gradually being put back into circulation, indicates the director of the prefect’s cabinet, Lucie Roche, on France Info, and about sixty motorists have chosen to stay in a gymnasium in Valserhône.
“It fell two to three times” of snow “than what the forecasts announced”, explains the spokeswoman for the prefecture, who welcomes the mobilization of firefighters and gendarmes. “Some heavy goods vehicles, before they were blocked by prefectural decree, got involved without equipment and got in the way, blocking the vehicles that followed and the snow removal operations that were in progress,” explains Lucie Roche , which also evokes “a sector difficult to access”, and “a secondary network which was also completely saturated”.
“In 40 minutes, 20 cm of snow fell again,” a witness told BFMTV on Tuesday evening.
A truck stuck across the two lanes
At the height of the crisis, some 2,000 vehicles were trapped, mainly because of an accident at 4 p.m. A truck traveling towards Lyon / Paris hit a guardrail at Valserhône and got across both lanes, blocking traffic, while the scene caused a big slowdown in the other direction, towards Geneva / Chamonix .
The place being located uphill and the vehicles not being equipped, they had difficulty leaving, in turn blocking the two traffic lanes, explains the Mont-Blanc Autoroutes and Tunnel network. According to the manager of the A40 motorway, drivers asleep in their vehicle were woken up throughout the night in order to evacuate in the direction of Geneva. The last cars were cleared around 4.30am Wednesday morning.
“These two simultaneous blockages very quickly created a significant traffic jam in both directions of traffic (over 4 km in one and 9 km in the other, editor’s note), completely blocking the action of the snowplows of the ATMB teams at the when the snowfall intensified (up to 15 cm / hour), ”adds ATMB.
The services of the Red Cross were dispatched to the site, using quads and caterpillars provided by the Haute-Savoie firefighters, to provide assistance, with hot drinks and snacks, to drivers and weight drivers heavy, according to the same source.
After these heavy snowfalls, a lull is expected for Wednesday morning.
In Isère, the prefecture invites in a press release those who practice “hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and any other mountain activity” to “be very careful” on the Chartreuse, Vercors, Belledonne and Les Massifs. Grandes Rousses, where the avalanche risks will be “strong”.
“The practice of these activities outside of marked slopes is strongly discouraged”, she adds, specifying that “Thursday and Friday, the risk of avalanches will increase further”. Ditto in Ain where the snow has also fallen in quantity.
For its part, the prefecture of Haute-Savoie has warned against a risk of the start of flows “high for all the massifs of the department”.
“The snowpack is very unstable and many avalanches of friable plates are likely to be triggered,” she said in a statement. The department has been placed in orange “snow-ice” vigilance because of “an intense winter episode” which should last this Wednesday, according to Météo France.