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Traffic chaos as gas workers dig up road
TEMPERS were close to boiling point after gas workers started digging up one of the busiest roads in the county – without telling anyone.
Thousands of commuters and the city’s road chiefs at Worcestershire County Council were left in the dark by National Grid, after its engineers pitched up on the A449 Worcester to Malvern main road at Powick.
It left drivers with a one-hour delay on the A4440 from London Road to Powick yesterday.
Tailbacks extended from Powick to Newlands in the Malvern direction, and there was further chaos at the Whittington roundabout with reports of vehicles three abreast on the island.
The gas firm said it had been called out by a concerned member of the public to a deep rut in the tarmac it had laid as a temporary patch in between periods of on-going gas works.
While workers were making repairs, they put up automated traffic lights allowing one lane at a time to pass.
But during the recent scheduled works, lights were manually controlled by ‘spotters’ working at both ends of the traffic queues.
National Grid is spending millions upgrading the crumbling metal gas mains supplying homes in the area.
It says the new pipes will be good for another century.
The company admitted it did not tell Worcestershire County Council it had dug up the road until 10 hours after first arriving on site at 9pm on Monday.
The county council had no time to warn drivers to take alternative routes before rush hour.
The work was due to last until the early hours of this morning.
Jon Fraser, the council’s customer and community manager for highways, said: “The traffic hold-ups at Powick are due to a National Grid gas reinstatement failure. The county council’s highways have been informed and are now working with National Grid to improve traffic flow and ensure disruption is kept to the minimum while emergency work is carried out.”
Insiders at the council said there had been “several robust telephone conversations” with the engineers at National Grid.
Jane Taylor, National Grid spokeswoman, said: “We had a call at 9pm from a member of the public to say there was a bad rut down the centre of the road.
“Because it’s a busy road, we’ve only been working [on the gas mains] at the weekends and then putting a temporary tarmac fill during weekdays. This time, the temporary fill failed due to sheer volume of traffic.
“Our people needed to get the traffic lights up quickly to get this re-laid so we were not able to notify the council.”
National Grid has one more scheduled weekend of work over October 6-7. It will have then completed the Powick stage of works.
Commenting on our website Whyme posted: “Half an hour! Left Newtown Road at 8am and got to Malvern at 10am! Queues from Powick all the way back to Whittington Island. Add to that the traffic tailed back at all roundabouts inbetween. Chaos.”
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