In danger of being stuck on the road to nowhere

COMMENT: The return of good weather shouldn’t bring dread

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You’re driving along, thoughts turning to the day ahead, when suddenly you see the red of the brake lights and get that sinking feeling.

There’s congestion up ahead and there’s nothing for it but to put the anchors on and join a stationary queue of traffic.

You know you’ll be late for work or to drop the kids off at school and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Anybody who has been driving in and around Portsmouth for any length of time will have been stuck in a jam or two.

But yesterday’s snarl-up was a bad one even by the city’s standards.

A ‘perfect storm’ of roadworks, heavy rain and high winds and children heading back to school after the long summer break meant gridlock on the roads and delays of more than an hour as people tried desperately to get somewhere in the peak morning period between 8am and 9am.

Roadworks at Burrfields Road, Copnor, and Western Road, Cosham were blamed for the road congestion – although Colas, the company organising the works, says other factors also played a part.

With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to criticise the authorities for allowing projects such as these to happen at the same time.

But work has to be carried out sometime and we accept it’s not easy to synchronise different companies.

Certainly the police deserve praise for taking the sensible decision to advise Colas to re-open one of Western Road’s two closed -off lanes heading west in an attempt to ease the build-up of traffic.

What happened yesterday should serve as a powerful reminder of how easily our road network can grind to a halt.

A big part of the answer has to be to cut the numbers of vehicles trying to negotiate our crowded highways.

That means more of us being encouraged to use public transport.

Bus and rail services have to be made more attractive so that we’re persuaded to ditch the car.

Otherwise we’re all going to be on the road to nowhere.