CONGESTION chaos is on the cards for thousands of city workers after a gas pipe under a main road cracked, prompting emergency repairs.
Engineers have sealed off part of Winston Churchill Avenue, in Portsmouth, after a gas main ruptured yesterday morning.
Officials from Portsmouth City Council have warned residents and commuters the route could be closed until Friday.
Diversions are in place but the council is urging people to avoid the area, particularly at rush hour, when the congestion is expected to spike.
Councillor Paul Godier, who represents the affected Charles Dickens ward, is a qualified gas engineer and said the city had an ageing network of piping.
He added: ‘The first thing is public safety. We have to get this leak sorted and do whatever it takes.
‘The thing is, we have tens of thousands of commuters who leave the city every day. This will obviously have an impact on them.’
A city council spokeswoman said Cambridge Road northbound, from the Museum Road roundabout to the junction of St Michael’s Road, had been shut.
‘Currently, traffic is being diverted along Museum Road and Hampshire Terrace,’ the spokeswoman added.
‘Portsmouth City Council is monitoring this closely to look at the effect this has on the wider network.
‘If this closure causes too much congestion in a very concentrated area then alternative routes may be considered.
‘While this work takes place, we advise avoiding the area where possible and use alternative routes out of the city.’
Southern Gas Network (SGN), whose engineers are setting about fixing the problem, said it wasn’t yet sure how the leak occurred and claimed a number of factors can cause gas pipes to leak.
Ground movements under the weight of traffic and moisture in the soil can damage pipes, the firm said, adding heavy traffic can also dislodge joints causing leaks while erosion can cause iron joints to corrode and crack.
In a statement, SGN said the road closures were designed to keep engineers safe, adding: ‘It’s still too early to say how long our work will take, but we’ll post a further update later in the week.’
The gas leak comes a day after one in Western Parade, Southsea.