MOTORISTS are facing severe delays in Southampton this morning as five cruise ships dock in the city.
Traffic has been building up in the Itchen bridge and Dock Gate 4 areas since 8am, which are both currently the subject of major road works.
One driver reported to the Daily Echo that it took them 25 minutes to get from New Road in the city centre to Dock Gate 4 - a journey of less than a mile.
Cruise ships Aracdia, Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, Saga Pearl and Saga Ruby II are all alongisde today.
The QM2 will later be at the centre of a fireworks display and celebrations to mark 10 years since its maiden voyage.
Outside Dock Gate 4, Platform Road is currently undergoing major roadworks to create a dual carriageway, while the junction at the western end of the Itchen Bridge is currently being redeveloped.
After previous delays when three cruise ships were in port, changes were made to the pelican crossing on Platform Road, linking the Eastern Docks and Queen's Park, in an attempt to keep road traffic moving as smoothly as possible.
The works on Platform Road began last summer, and are due to continue until April 2015.
Work on the Itchen Bridge is expected to continue until March, with further works on Central Bridge then being in place until May.
This morning's delays were compounded by a crash on Redbridge Road, with many drivers having to queue towards the M271 as they tried to leave the city.
A frustrated van driver from Southampton who did not want to be named, said:” Driving around this town today is terrible. There is traffic qued up from Millbrook railway station all the way to Dock Gate 4.
“Along West Quay Road people were getting out of their cars and talking to one another, it was absolutely awful. In all my years driving in Southampton I have seen bad traffic but never as bad as this.
"This kind of traffic is not going to help the city in the cruising trade because people might miss the boat because they are waiting for ages to move anywhere.”
Another aspect that could be adding to the traffic problems is a partial lane closure in Marsh Lane leading towards Dock Gate four.
The closure, which has been in place for less than a week, means that drivers who head towards Dock Gate four and the city centre are all forced to go into one lane, rather than the two that they could usually use.
By 1pm, traffic towards the Town Quay area from the west was queuing as far back as Millbrook Railway Station.
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