ROADWORKS are bringing chaos to Worcester - with furious drivers saying they have been left "stranded".
Severn Trent Water has just launched a new project to lay pipes around St Peter's, gridlocking the south of the city.
The £180,000 project kicked off yesterday, resulting in motorists having to queue for an hour to travel the length of the A38 Bath Road during the evening rush hour.
More than a mile of tailbacks stretched towards the Sidbury junction and towards the Cathedral roundabout last night in scenes described as "farcical".
There were even reports of drivers dumping cars by The Albion Inn to walk up Bath Road rather than drive, and rat-runs up London Road and the A4440 Southern Link Road.
Some callers to your Worcester News said drivers were dumping cars by St Peter's Baptist Church in desperation.
Severn Trent, which is laying 400 metres of new water pipes, has placed four-way traffic lights around St Peter's island, off St Peter's Drive, for a scheme that will not end until April.
Politicians say they have already been bombarded with complaints from disgruntled residents.
It threatens to leave south Worcester with traffic problems for 15 months, as in April Worcestershire County Council is set to start a year-long £8 million revamp of the Ketch roundabout.
Bath Road resident Eileen Johnson, 51, said: "I was going up Bath Road at 5pm and it took me an hour to get to Tesco, it was disgraceful.
"I thought of going up London Road but so many cars were turning around I didn't bother. I was basically stranded, it was farcical.
"People were furious, it was the worst gridlock I've ever seen. It was chaos."
Bill Meadows, of Begonia Close, St Peter's, who was also caught up in it, said: "It's already absolutely gridlock, something has to be done.
“My worry is that we'll have over a year of this."
Councillor Marc Bayliss, who represents St Peter's for the county council, said he has already requested urgent talks with highways chiefs about it.
"I've already had numerous complaints, a solution must be found because we can't have this.
"This is a key arterial route out of the city and it will be gridlocked. I hear it was causing tailbacks back to the city centre."
Councillor Roger Knight, a city councillor for the area, said: "The amount of complaints I'm getting about this already, it's crazy.
"One woman said it took her 40 minutes to go down St Peter's Drive this morning (Thursday)."
Severn Trent say too many water pipes in south Worcester are old and prone to bursting, making the work "essential."
The body has put out a statement apologising for the delays, saying 12 weeks is a "short time" for such a complex project.
Jonathan Tait, from Severn Trent, said: "We apologise for any inconvenience caused to the community, but our priority is to give the best service we can to our customers.
"The work will only be for a short time, but the benefits should be felt for years to come."
A follow-up statement from the firm said Wednesday’s M5 incident may have added to the delays.
It said: “We’re sorry for any disruption caused to peoples journeys as a result of improvement work we’re carrying out in Worcester.
"We’re aware that there were long traffic delays at St Peter’s Drive yesterday (Wednesday) and unfortunately the problem was made worse because of an accident on the motorway, which sent more traffic onto the local roads and increased the congestion.
“We’re doing everything we can to try to minimise disruption to the local community.
"We’re working closely with the Highways Agency to help manage the traffic in the best way we can – including looking at different ways to make sure the traffic lights are working as efficiently as possible.
"As the work continues we hope we will be able to replace the 4-way traffic lights with 2-way traffic lights and for the last part of the work we may even be able to remove the traffic lights completely.”
* Were you caught up in last night's chaos? Are you in it today? Call 01905 742248 or email email@example.com.