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Brace yourselves for more traffic chaos, Southampton council chiefs warn
MOTORISTS have been warned to brace themselves for traffic chaos in Southampton tomorrow.
Roads chiefs have warned it could be the start of almost a week of motoring misery in the city.
They say roadworks, cruise ships and Christmas shoppers could cause a repeat of the tailbacks that have ground parts of the city to a halt twice in the past fortnight.
The warning comes after highways chiefs met to discuss new measures which they hope will ease the city centre’s recent traffic woes.
Thousands of motorists have been caught up in gridlock across the centre on two occasions in the past fortnight.
Road works at Platform Road and Itchen Bridge, and the arrival of multiple cruise ships contributed to the chaos.
They have resisted calls to suspend the works on busy days, and have instead announced a raft of new measures.
Cruise ships They include modifying signal phasing and traffic management at the road works sites, extending the hours when manual control of traffic signals is used and working with the police to co-ordinate abnormal load movements.
They will also work with Associated British Ports to increase staff levels at Dock Gate Four, which will speed up traffic entering and leaving the port on busy days.
The council has also warned motorists of the busiest times to travel in and out of the city centre in the run-up to Christmas.
Tomorrow will see two cruise liners in port and will be the penultimate weekend for Christmas shopping.
On Tuesday, there will be three liners in port and there will be two on Thursday.
Traffic could be especially heavy on Friday, when there will be three ships in port, while it will also be the last day of the school term, while many businesses will also close down for Christmas.
Next weekend there will be more cruise liners, a Saints Sunday lunchtime fixture against Tottenham, and one final weekend of shopping before Christmas.
Peak times in the city centre are typically between 1pm and 2pm on weekends, but the main volume of traffic to and from the Saints’ match on December 22 is likely to be between noon and 1pm, and then again from 3.30pm-4.30pm.
Reviews Council transport boss Jacqui Rayment said: “We know that lots of people have been delayed by traffic in recent weeks, and our residents expect and deserve better.
“While the city can get very busy at this time of year, I can assure residents that we are doing everything possible to reduce congestion and keep people informed with the latest travel information.
“The ongoing improvement works at Platform Road can have an impact on journey times around Dock Gate 4, particularly when more than one cruise liner is in port and passengers are disembarking and joining the ships.
“We are constantly reviewing the traffic management to keep the roads moving.
“These works represent a major investment in the city’s road infrastructure and once complete will contribute to reducing congestion and boosting economic growth within the city centre and the Port of Southampton.”
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