PORTSMOUTH’S council leader has apologised after roadworks left thousands of people trapped in traffic for hours over the weekend.
Large parts of the city became gridlocked as angry motorists were unable to get on and off the M275 because of works to waterproof the motorway’s bridge.
The works saw the southbound carriageway of the motorway reduced to two lanes and the northbound carriageway down to one lane, with all traffic having to use the Rudmore roundabout, from 8pm Friday until 5.30am this morning.
But with crowds flocking to the Armed Forces Day events at the Historic Dockyard, Gunwharf Quays, or the seafront, they became stuck in the lengthy queues.
Portsmouth City Council’s leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon Jackson said: ‘I was absolutely appalled.
‘I don’t know how the decision was made to do a major piece of roadworks on such a busy day.
‘I don’t know who it was who took that decision, but whoever thought that this weekend wouldn’t be busy, clearly got it wrong.
‘I apologise to everyone who was inconvenienced as a result of this.
‘It did cause traffic chaos and it made life very difficult for a lot of people.’
But round two of the works, which are expected to feature exactly the same lane alterations, are currently scheduled to take place from July 12 to 15.
Cllr Vernon Jackson added: ‘We will be looking into this to find out how it happened and obviously there won’t be the Armed Forces Day events in two weeks’ time, but of course we don’t want this to happen again.’
Dave Swinford, 65, from Lovedean, went with his family to the dockyard on Saturday and said: ‘It was shambolic.
‘Why ever did they say go ahead with the roadworks on a weekend as busy as this?
‘We even saw an ambulance trapped in the traffic by Victory Gate. They couldn’t get around the corner because there was a bus trapped in the traffic coming the other way blocking the angle.’
Paul Beauchamp, 29, from Southampton, his wife and his seven-year-old nephew and four-year-old niece also visited the dockyard.
He said: ‘We took almost two hours to get out of town – we spent 20 minutes just sitting in Gunwharf’s car park without even moving.
‘People were starting to get frustrated and there were cars trying to cut the queues which didn’t work. It spoiled what was otherwise a lovely day.’
No-one was available to comment at the weekend from the council’s highways contractor, Colas.