THERE was traffic gridlock for hours yesterday as Worcester Bridge was closed while a large island of debris was removed from the River Severn.

While the already high river levels are “on the rise again”, according to the area’s Environment Agency manager, with heavy rain forecast over the next 48 days.

Herefordshire and Worcestershire manager, Dave Throup, said he and his colleagues are “preparing for the worst” as they work round the clock to check flood defences.

The bridge was closed eastbound and was reduced to one lane westbound from 9.30am on Monday for more than five hours, with one motorist describing St John’s as having been “cut off” due to standstill jams.

The worst of the congestion, aside from the bridge itself, appeared to be on the A449 Bromwich Road, all the way down through to Powick and up the A4440 into Rushwick. There were also heavy tailbacks along Hylton Road and Tybridge Street.

The last of the debris was removed via crane at around 2pm before workers undertook a final road sweep before the road fully re-opened prior to the afternoon school run.

Persistent rain last month had caused considerable flooding across the country, with the River Severn’s levels rising to their highest in Worcester since 2014.

The aftermath of this caused debris to build up against the bridge, which was originally due to be cleared last Monday (November 4), though this was postponed due to the change in river level making the operation unsafe.

Following the work, Mr Throup took to Twitter to record a video from the River Severn flood plain in Kempsey, to warn about the upcoming “bad weather”. He said the river “never really recovered from the flooding that we had a couple of weeks ago” and more rain is expected over the “next 24-48 hours”.

“It’s a developing situation, there’s an element of uncertainty in the forecast in particular for Thursday when we could see a lot of rain in this part of the world, but we might not see much at all. We are preparing for the worst and if the worst does happen then the rivers are going to respond very quickly and we could see some high levels again, and it won’t just be the little rivers.” He added, the River Severn flood plain is “already full before we get that additional rain”.