Section of A690 road could remain closed off for days until snow melts
A section of the busy A690 road could remain closed for days unless huge mounds of snow which have gathered above the highway melt.
The westbound carriageway is still closed to traffic from the junction with the A19 to Houghton after being shut at noon on Friday following last week's huge snowfall.
On Saturday, officers from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service used an aerial ladder platform to try and knock down some of the snow.
They are back out at the scene this afternoon to try and dislodge the snow and ice.
But they were unable to remove much of the snow from the hillside at Houghton Cut.
The eastbound carriageway is open, but is down to one lane in case any falling snow from the opposite side bounces over from the westbound lanes.
Sunderland City Council chiefs say that the situation is continually being monitored and they are hopeful that it the eastbound side will be re-opened later this week amid milder weather.
Ian Richardson, assistant head of place management with the council, said: "Because of the snowfall last week we have ended up with significant drifts on top of the cut.
"Because of the size of it and the likelihood of it falling we've had to close this carriageway to keep it safe for people.
"We are continuing to asses the situation between ourselves, the police and the fire service as well as the highway engineers and we will just keep an eye on things."
Mr Richardson added: "What you can see here is only about a third of the snow that is up there.
"It is probably a couple of metres deep.
"There is a significant tonnage of snow to come down although the forecast is predicting for it to be a bit milder.
"There is potential for heavy rain tonight which could help see it thaw.
"With a bit of luck it will melt rather than fall onto the carriageway.
"If that is the case then we will get the road open as soon as we can.
"The fire service have been out again this morning to have a look and see if they can blast it with water but they have said with it being a significant amount of snow up there if may be a case of nature sorting things out quicker than anything else."
Diversions for those who would usually use the A690 westbound are available via the A19, A183 Chester Road and the A182.
Nearby Burdon Lane which was shut on Saturday, has since been re-opened after the road was cleared.