Motorists face delays after A12 closure
THOUSANDS of motorists faced major days over the weekend after a section of the A12 was closed for a bridge to be demolished.Three times the normal number of cars were diverted through Colchester town centre, causing massive queues throughout the town.
By Annie Davidson
THOUSANDS of motorists faced major days over the weekend after a section of the A12 was closed for a bridge to be demolished.
Three times the normal number of cars were diverted through Colchester town centre, causing massive queues throughout the town.
There were reports of shoppers in the town's Asda supermarket trapped in the store's car park for up to three hours.
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The mayhem ensued after the A12 was shut between the Ardleigh interchange and the Spring Lane junction at Stanway from midnight on Friday until late last night.
The road had been due to reopen at 5am today but highways bosses said yesterday they were confident the work would finish ahead of schedule.
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As the Highways Agency worked to demolish the old Braiswick Road bridge over the A12, drivers were diverted via Ipswich Road, Cowdray Avenue and Cymbeline Way.
Queues built up and the gridlock spread throughout the town including around North Station, Balkerne Hill and East Hill as well as the routes forming the diversion.
Football supporters traveling to Ipswich Town's FA Cup game on Saturday also faced delays, including the traveling contingent from Swansea.
At Asda on Turner Rise, frustrated shoppers were unable to leave the store's car park and some abandoned their vehicles and walked home.
The store's people manager Dean Bradbrook said some customers had been given refunds or replacements for chilled and frozen items which had spoiled during the delays.
Mr Bradbrook said: “It was awful. For us the issue was getting cars into and out of the car park but the traffic lights at the bottom of the hill from us do not have a very good sequence and the timing means too many cars are allowed one way and not enough the other way.
“We ended up as a bit of a car park with no movement whatsoever. We had reports of people being here for two hours and we had a number of people phoning up saying they were going to leave their cars here and walk home.
“It was a case of there being this sheer volume of traffic and there was nothing we could do.”
Mr Bradbrook, who lives in Ipswich, added his usual ten minute drive from the A12 to Asda had taken an hour and twenty minutes.
Leader of the Labour Group on Colchester Borough Council, Tim Young and his family took two hours to return to Colchester from Ipswich - a journey which usually takes 30 minutes.
Mr Young, of Mascot Square in the Hythe, said he there was only one sign on the A12 from Ipswich informing drivers of the closure which he claimed was inadequate. He said motorists were “unprepared for the chaos.”
Dozens of drivers called Essex police's headquarters in Chelmsford and its Colchester stations asking for assistance.
Sgt Dave Cook, of Stanway Traffic Police, said there was little officers could do as the gridlock was due to the volume of traffic.
“It was the amount of cars which was causing the problem and we could not do anything to resolve that,” he said.
“You suddenly had two or three times the normal amount of traffic trying to get through the town centre.
“All the roads coming down towards Cowdray Avenue, including North Station Road were jammed up.”
Martin Wilkes, traffic safety and control officer for the Highways Agency, said yesterday that the situation had been better on Sunday with traffic heavy but still moving.
He said Saturday had been “bad” and added: “The approaches to the A12 were backed up for about two miles and around the town centre the traffic was very, very heavy.”
Mr Wilkes added: “There was no other way of doing it. This was a concrete bridge which had to be broken down in sections and there was no other way than to close the A12.”