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Traffic misery for hundreds as work begins on Itchen Bridge in Southampton
HUNDREDS of motorists endured hours of tailback misery after being caught up in new road works in Southampton.
As previously reported, work to create a new, cyclistfriendly roundabout junction between the Itchen Bridge and Central Bridge began on Saturday.
But on the first Monday morning it was tackled by motorists on their way to work, the road works led to traffic chaos and tailbacks more than a mile long.
The city council, which has commissioned Balfour Beatty to carry out the work as part of a project to create a new cycle route, has apologised for the delays yesterday saying they were the result of a “perfect storm” of a variety of issues.
Council chiefs hope the £1.7million project, which will see a Dutch-style cycle route linking Woolston to the city centre, will help to revolutionise sustainable travel in the city.
As part of that work, the roundabout junction at Saltmarsh Road is being converted into a traffic light controlled junction with additional cycling and pedestrian links to Central Bridge and Terminus Terrace.
That work will take 15 weeks, and in order to stop the bridge being closed for a second time in 12 months, council chiefs have also scheduled essential maintenance work on Central Bridge to begin early in the new year.
But yesterday morning hundreds of people on their way to work over the Itchen Bridge found themselves sitting in queues for up to two hours.
At one point, the queue over the bridge reportedly reached as far east as the Plough Inn in Old Netley.
One motorist, Mark Cockrill, was on his way to work from Woolston to Shamrock Quay, said: “This poorly executed road works scheme has not been thought out coherently by the council.
“It was absolute chaos and it set to get worse once the project is completed.
“Very little warning signage has been given in the last few weeks and the chaos the traffic lights will cause in the next 15 weeks will bring Southampton to a standstill at rush hour.”
And angry motorists took to social media site Twitter to vent their frustration, with one saying: “Who thought 15 weeks of road works by Itchen Bridge wouldn’t create gridlock?”
And another added: “30 minutes to get from my house to the other side of the Itchen Bridge. Think we can already see that traffic lights are a bad idea.”
A council spokesman said both the authority and Balfour Beatty apologised for the delays, saying: “The heavy traffic was due to a ‘perfect storm’ of factors including the works on the Eastern Cycle Route near Itchen Bridge that started at the weekend, other road works going around the city and an incident on the M27, all of which had a knock-on effect on the network.
“Heavy rain was also an issue as this slowed traffic considerably.
“Looking ahead, we will do everything possible to avoid a repeat of this morning’s congestion and will be monitoring constantly, adjusting the traffic signals to optimise traffic flow to minimise delays and inconvenience.”
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