Drivers fuming as bridge work leads to gridlock
TRANSPORT bosses have been urged to "get a grip" to stop traffic chaos caused by major roadworks.
Drivers were left fuming as phase two of Plymouth's Eastern Corridor improvement scheme began on Monday with rush-hour gridlock.
The work, which aims to improve traffic flow over Laira Bridge, will take up to 11 weeks. A council spokeswoman admitted yesterday that most of the work would be done in the week, and not at weekends.
"Everybody is going mad about it. It's chaotic," Cllr Kevin Wigens, a former Cabinet member for transport, said.
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"They need to get a grip on a very bad situation. It's too awful to contemplate that this could go on for 11 weeks.
"Laira Bridge needs to be done, but the level of traffic chaos is such that whatever traffic management they have put in place evidently isn't working. It is affecting the whole of the city.
"I, perhaps more than anyone, would know how difficult this is to do. They need to be on it almost 24 hours a day. People will accept some delays, but this is unacceptable.
"Plymstock is badly hit but it is having a knock-on effect all the way up to Mutley Plain and North Hill. On Monday the city was virtually gridlocked almost all day.
"Cllr Mark Coker, the Cabinet member for transport, needs to be pummelling the transport department to get a solution to this."
Brian George, operations manager at Plymouth Citybus, said the problems had been worst in the afternoons as traffic built up. But he expected the mornings to become equally bad after the schools go back this week.
"It has been tailing back on Tothill Road to Mutley Plain, and along the Embankment," he said. "Tothill Road is particularly bad. We had to divert the number 24 service because it could not get down the hill from Greenbank.
"We do have the advantage of the bus lanes so it's not as bad for us as for other road users on some routes."
Royal Mail spokesperson Adrian Booth said: "Royal Mail finds the condition of these roadworks a significant challenge. We are doing our best to ensure the highest level of service to our customers."
A Prince Rock resident said a journey that normally takes 15 minutes took her more than an hour yesterday afternoon. "I'm fuming," she said.
A council spokeswoman said: "Disruption is inevitable when carrying out maintenance and improvement works on such a busy route, particularly at peak times, but these improvements will significantly reduce congestion and delays for people travelling over Laira Bridge.
"We have programmed the essential maintenance works on Laira Bridge to coincide with the junction improvements at Finnigan Road to minimise overall disruption on the road network.
"All diversions have been clearly signed and we are using our digital roadside signs to warn drivers about the works.
"It usually takes at least a few days for motorists to adjust to new traffic arrangements."
She urged motorists to avoid the busy periods and to leave extra time for their journeys.
"The majority of the works will be carried out from Monday to Friday but this will be under continual review.
"Where the sequencing of works allows and it can be programmed in cost-effectively we will be considering working outside these times."