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Council forced to re-open busy Chester road as traffic is gridlocked for hours

Chester city centre was at a standstill this morning

(Image: John Murray)

Angry motorists have hit out after a closed city centre street caused hours of traffic gridlock in Chester this morning (June 20).

George Street was closed yesterday (Monday) by Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) to make improvements to the junction of Upper Northgate and George Street.

But even though CWaC was said to have timed the works to minimise the disruption of multiple works taking place in different parts of the city at the same time, cars and buses were at a standstill for most of the morning.

Traffic only eased when CWaC re-opened the road just before midday.

Motorists, including bus drivers, stuck in the traffic expressed their frustration on The Chronicle's Facebook page, with some citing 'poor planning and poor management' from CWaC.

Jenny King wrote: "Took my daughter an hour from the hospital to the bus station, hour late for work not good," while Thomas Clarke said: "Should have been night work. Us bus drivers are tearing our hair out because it's us getting the abuse for being late."

Transport enthusiast John Murray was stuck on a bus for half an hour and said he noticed that buses appeared to be having difficulty negotiating the entrance and exit to the city's new bus exchange.

"I saw two buses, one a National Express, the other Stagecoach Gold, have to reverse to complete the manoeuvre," he told The Chronicle. "That was in the space of about 10 minutes.

Traffic backed up due to the closure of George Street

"It took my inbound bus 30 minutes to get from the Bars to the bus station and we had to go up to the Fountains roundabout because of the roadworks.

"It suddenly eased at about 11.50am when they reopened George Street which freed up the traffic," he added.

CwaC's cabinet member for environment Cllr Karen Shore said: “The essential works at Upper Northgate Street are connected with the new bus interchange and will allow vehicles to right turn down Delamere Street, rather than go all the way round the Fountains Roundabout.

“I’d like to apologise that the closure of George Street caused traffic congestion this morning, but as soon as Highways officers were aware of the issues they instructed the contractor to remove the road closure on George Street, which allowed traffic to move more freely.

"We will monitor the situation"

She added: “We have reviewed the signage on site, and will now wait until the morning peak traffic has passed before putting the closure back on tomorrow morning.

"If there is a repeat of today’s congestion for any reason, we will look to re-open George Street again. However, the same traffic management was put in place yesterday (Monday) after morning peak time and was maintained all day, through evening peak hours and into the night, without any problems.

“As soon as we are able, we will also tweak the traffic signal timings to maximise the capacity of the temporary layout. Highways officers will continue to monitor the situation very closely.”

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