Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

WE GOT IT WRONG; Council Admits Mistake That Led to 10-Mile Traffic Jams on Tees Road

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

WE GOT IT WRONG; Council Admits Mistake That Led to 10-Mile Traffic Jams on Tees Road

Article excerpt

Byline: By KAREN FAUGHEY

COUNCIL chiefs today admitted that a 10-mile traffic jam was due to a one-off error of judgement and say it will not happen again.

Commuters using the A19 yesterday faced horrendous tailbacks during morning rush hour - with queues stretching for more than 10 miles, as far north as Dalton Piercy.

Traffic officials at Middlesbrough Council today admitted the closure of a lane on the A66 "had a bigger adverse effect than they expected".

Improvements are under way to widen the A66, and with most of the current work taking place on the central reservation, the council's traffic department chose to close the outside lane.

This meant traffic from the A19 had trouble merging with vehicles on the A66 - creating a bottleneck which caused thousands of people to be late for work.

Alistair Bolton, group leader for transport and policy at Middlesbrough Council, said: "In theory, the capacity hadn't changed. It was the length of road that people had to merge, which had been reduced.

"We have assessed that and the closure of the outside lane will not happen until 9.30am today when we know we will have no trouble.

"It's a change we hoped would have worked better than it did, but we have looked at it and are monitoring it very closely.

"It had a bigger adverse effect than we thought it would, but we have taken heed and we realised it wasn't going to work on a permanent basis.

"Sometimes you don't know how things are going to work until you try them. I know that's not what people want to hear, but basically we saw what happened and we will leave it as it was now."

The A66 roadworks, which are part of the Middlesbrough Accessibility Project, began in November and motorists have since only been able to use lanes two, three and four as they approach Middlesbrough.

Yesterday morning's major problems happened when it was decided that the outside lane would be closed, and traffic would instead use lanes one, two and three.

Mr Bolton said: "In essence, the capacity is the same, but where the A66 and the A19 merge it caused a bigger bottleneck than we thought, which caused the tailbacks and caused people considerable delays. …

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