Gridlock caused by roadworks

A COMMUNICATIONS failure between the Highways Agency and Norfolk County Council led to motorists being stranded in traffic gridlock in Great Yarmouth for nearly two hours.

A COMMUNICATIONS failure between the Highways Agency and Norfolk County Council led to motorists being stranded in traffic gridlock in Great Yarmouth for nearly two hours.

Tailbacks stretched for miles along Acle New Road and South Quay on Wednesday last week because the agency failed to inform the council it would be carrying out roadworks on Breydon Bridge, reducing traffic to a single lane.

The result was it clashed with maintenance work being undertaken by East Port UK on Haven Bridge on the same night, leaving the town without a fully-functioning river crossing.

To compound matters, the roads were busy with traffic leaving the greyhound racing and football fans who had visited pubs in the town to watch the European Champions League final. Many drivers did not leave the town until the early hours of Thursday morning.

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Motorist Ian Wright was among those angered by the delays after he left the greyhound stadium in Caister Road at 10.45pm on Wednesday, but did not cross Breydon Bridge until 12.30am the following morning.

He said: “I just wondered who in the Highways Authority thought it was a good idea to have the westbound carriageway of the Haven Bridge shut at the same time as roadworks on the New (Breydon) Bridge - and on a night when there was greyhound racing on at the same time as the Champions League final, when loads of people would be leaving after the pubs shut.”

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County Council spokesman Mark Langlands said the port authority had told the council “some time ago” about the work on Haven Bridge, which has closed the westbound carriageway every night between 7pm and 6am and is due to end on June 28.

He believed the agency knew about the bridge works.

“Unfortunately, because of a communications breakdown, it appears neither the Highways Agency nor its contractors told us in advance about the work they had planned on Breydon Bridge and that led directly to the delays last week.

“We have spoken to the Highways Agency and reminded them of the need to always co-ordinate with us in future. They have reassured us that no further works are planned for the Breydon bridge while the remainder of the repairs to the Haven Bridge are carried out.

“We can only apologise to those who were caught in the traffic and hope they understand the situation was not of our making,” Mr Langlands said.

Highways Agency spokesman James Wright said normally the agency would liaise with local authorities before carrying out roadworks, but had not done so on this occasion.

He said maintenance work was to replace metal and rubber joints running across Breydon Bridge that enable it to expand and contract with temperature changes over the seasons.

“Whenever we possibly can, we plan our roadworks to cause minimum disruption to traffic. Generally, the Highways Agency is quite hot on this. When we do roadworks we do it at a time of night to minimise disruption and we are normally good at this. But it does not look like we followed our procedures. We apologise to road users for any disruption caused,” Mr Wright said.

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