Lessons must be learned from chaos on the roads

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Once again a single incident has led to the streets of Portsmouth and routes in and out of the city becoming badly gridlocked. We’ve been here before, but it doesn’t make it any easier to take.

Many are wondering how it can be that the closure of one road, this time the southbound carriageway of London Road, causes so much traffic chaos.

Queues have been stretching as far back as Fareham, Purbrook and Hayling Island and drivers have reported nightmare journeys of several hours.

This time the reason for the long tailbacks and fraying tempers is a gas leak. Of course that comes under the heading of emergency and work opposite Hilsea Lido to repair the problem must go ahead.

We accept this isn’t something that could have been planned. It happened and had to be dealt with straight away.

But surely there must be a better way of coping with such scenarios?

Motorists have complained about confusing diversions, poor signage in general and a lack of advance warning that the tailbacks would be quite so bad.

It meant that many headed to work unaware that they were going to be trapped in such long queues going nowhere.

Everybody should have been better informed about what was happening so they could make alternative plans.

Other routes should have been suggested to help people get to where they wanted to go. But instead they were left to fend for themselves.

Clearly, the signs could and should have been better. And the Highways Agency should not have refused to let Portsmouth City Council put up warning signs on the slip road off the A27. That smacks of petty officialdom.

Information should also have been released earlier and the potential scale of the delays anticipated.

As drivers prepare to put up with the jams for as long as two weeks while the leak is fixed, we’re right to expect that lessons have been learned and that in future management of such incidents by all involved parties will be much improved.