Thousands of frustrated motorists spent hours on journeys that should have taken just minutes as Gloucester’s roads ground to a halt.
Roadworks on the M5 and the A40 combined to bring the city’s streets to a standstill at rush hour on Tuesday evening. And drivers are waiting with baited breath to see if the situation improves.
Almost every route in Gloucester’s inner and outer ring was backed up with vehicles in both directions because of bridge strengthening work on the M5 and BT Openreach’s essential repairs to get 190 customers in Highnam back online.
“The only thing I can compare it to was the floods of 2007 when there were queues of cars and nowhere to go,” said Charlotte Jarrett, who lives in Kingsholm and works in Nailsea near Bristol.
Laura Woodbury-Smith, assistant manager at Parkers estate agency in Hucclecote, was trapped in a jam in the opposite direction.
“I was stuck on Bristol Road,” she said. “I was heading from Hucclecote to Quedgeley and it took ages. It was jammed both ways.”
Quedgeley parish councillor Julian Powell queued from Quedgeley to Maisemore on Monday and Tuesday night.
“It was not too bad on Monday but it was terrible on Tuesday,” he said.
While the bridge work at Upton St Leonards is planned in and is expected to take around a year, BT’s sudden intervention on the A40 and B4215 compounded delays.
The Highways Agency is strengthening the M5 bridge over the B4073 Painswick Road near Upton St Leonards. Motorway traffic is limited to two lanes at 50mph there.
The city was gridlocked from around 4pm to 7pm.
A BT Openreach spokesman apologised for the delays, but said it had no choice but to set up roadworks at the A40/B4215 junction on Tuesday.
Yesterday the work at that junction was complete and the work at the other end of the cable, opposite the Dog pub at Over was only taking place on the pavement.
Dave Sledge, delivery team leader for the Highways Agency, which is responsible for the motorway and the A40, said: “Yesterday, work by BT to restore telephone lines caused delays on the A40 and this had an impact on overall traffic congestion in the Gloucester area.
“This situation was compounded by an abnormal load, which broke down as it passed through the bridge works between junctions 11a and 12 on the M5.
“The bridge works have been planned very carefully in order to minimise overall disruption. Although the northbound carriageway is very busy in both the morning and evening peak hours, we do not expect this work to cause significant delays.”