THE contractor responsible for maintaining Portsmouth’s roads has admitted it was to blame over roadworks which crippled the city on one of the busiest weekends of the year.
A joint investigation by Portsmouth City Council and Colas found Colas was guilty of poor planning and traffic management which led to huge traffic jams into and out of the city over the weekend of June 29.
Some people were stuck in their vehicles for up to four hours in the hot weather, while others abandoned them altogether as they struggled to reach Armed Forces Day celebrations.
Portsmouth City Council quashed all parking tickets issued on the weekend.
Colas has now apologised for the problems which were caused by lane closures to allow the waterproofing of three of the M275’s bridges and installation of drainage near Rudmore roundabout.
Ensign is in charge of Portsmouth’s road network under a unique PFI contract.
Colas is the contractor undertaking all works.
It is also part of the joint venture VolkerFitzpatrickColas which is building the new motorway junction and park-and-ride in Tipner.
Brian Hicks, Ensign’s managing director, said: ‘We’re extremely sorry for the problems the work caused, there were definite oversights on our part and we will be making sure we’re better prepared for all future work.
‘The congestion caused was unacceptable and we will do everything within our power to make sure there is no repeat of it.’
The essential waterproofing work has to be done every 40 years or so. It ensures the bridges keep their structural strength and can only be done in good weather.
The second phase was due to be carried out this weekend but has now been put on hold until a new plan is fixed.
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘I’m very sorry this situation occurred and pleased Colas has recognised the responsibility lies with them for doing this essential work at a time when they knew there would be increased traffic flow.
‘I expect them to have systems in place within their organisation so they never again cause problems like this for residents and businesses in Portsmouth.’