Motorists stuck in traffic jams caused by roadworks on a key bridge in Bristol had to contend with something else this evening – the traffic lights being stuck on red for more than an hour.
The temporary lights on the northbound side of Brunel Way, at the start of the Plimsoll Bridge, were frozen on red from before 6pm on Wednesday evening. They caused huge tailbacks as far away as the Long Ashton bypass and Winterstoke Road in Ashton Gate.
Traffic congestion is already a massive problem since yesterday (Tuesday, September 20) when work to repair the Avon Bridge began and restricted the dual carriageway to just one lane in both directions. That was enough to cause long delays on the Portway, the A370 in North Somerset, Winterstoke Road and cause gridlock in Hotwells and into the city centre.
Traffic issues were just as bad on Wednesday morning and again on Wednesday evening – with people reporting journeys across Bristol taking more than two hours. Bristol Live broadcast a Facebook Live from 6pm from the Avon Bridge to show the repair works and the reasons for the delays.
While filming live, an ambulance with sirens on struggled to get through the queue of traffic waiting to pass the roadworks. The works are to fix the expander joints on the bridge and to restore the waterproof layer protecting the bridge’s concrete infrastructure.
Then it became apparent that the temporary lights – which normally warn drivers that the Plimsoll Bridge is swinging to allow a boat to pass into the Floating Harbour – had broken. Rather than being permanently on green and only activated when the bridge swing is in operation, they were instead permanently on red.
Most drivers approaching the lights stopped and waited for varying lengths of time before they realised there was a fault. However, the cumulative delays meant long waits and lengthy queues stretching back to Ashton Gate and as far as the South Bristol Link Road roundabout at Colliters Way.
Bristol Live reported the fault to Bristol City Council and a council spokesperson said they would get the issue fixed as soon as possible. The roadworks on Avon Bridge brought long delays to the entire flyover section across both the River Avon and the Cumberland Basin, from Ashton Gate to Hotwells, but the work is desperately needed, according to Bristol City Council’s transport lead, Councillor Don Alexander.
“Refurbishing Avon Bridge is essential to protect the structure from further water damage and keep the structure operational as it reaches the end of its lifecycle,” he said. “Brunel Way is a major route, so we’ve worked hard on a plan to keep the bridge open as much as possible throughout the works.
“However, they are likely to delay people as they travel through the area, so we are suggesting finding alternative routes and hope that everyone bears with us while we repair this important bridge.”
You can watch the full Facebook Live from Wednesday evening below.
After October 21, there are expected to be two weekend closures of Brunel Way with traffic diverted via Cumberland Road and Coronation Road. The dates of these closures have not yet been announced.
Priority is being given to critical structural bridge repairs to prolong the life of this complex elevated structure. The council also assesses the wider Western Harbour area, including the Cumberland Basin complex, during routine highway inspections and roads are routinely patch-repaired when needed.
The essential work is just one of several bridges undergoing repairs this autumn. Gaol Ferry Bridge has been closed for repair work expected to last several months and Redcliffe Bridge is closed to all road users from today until at least November so it can be held open in an upright position.