HUNDREDS of drivers were left almost at a standstill as weeks of work on a major road Southampton began yesterday.

Bassett Avenue is undergoing a series of drainage works, and cars were left bumper to bumper crawling towards the Chilworth roundabout for hours as peak traffic saw roundabouts blocked and other roads packed with cars.

The closure is part of a three-month £1 million project to carry out urgent repairs on the drainage system.

Once the work is complete, the road will be resurfaced for the first time in 16 years.

As it began early on Monday morning, the two lanes south into the city were shut off, with traffic beginning to build down Winchester Road.

The roundabout connecting the roads, and The Avenue, was also left crawling forward.

Fears had been raised that Swaythling would be one of the worst affected areas, and having been out on the road for the rush hour traffic on Monday morning, ward councillor Bob Painton said he could already see the damage being done.

Cllr Painton said: “It’s just as I expected it would be, and with the schools coming back next week it will be even worse.

“We have to be careful for the children’s safety, I have asked for more lollipop people to help with that, but we have four schools around that area.

“Swaythling is suffering already, and I want more signage around the area and with Burgess Road. With cars parking around the university buildings, it makes it almost impossible for the buses to get round.

“Having been there this morning, I spotted a few road cars were trying to use as a rat-run to work their way through.

“As I said, this is all as I expected, and it’s only going to get worse as the schools return.”

Despite the traffic, city councillor Jacqui Rayment, cabinet member for environment and transport, said it was ‘a relative success’.

Cllr Rayment said: “From the report I’ve had this morning at around 8am, it was a relative success. Of course we prepared for a number of things. It will be more difficult next week with the return of schools, and it is going to inconvenience people and for that I am sorry, but this is work that needed doing.

“What we can’t help is the rest of the network. It only takes a crash on the motorway for people to abandon their routes and try and take an area that they don’t know, and find themselves stuck.”