DRIVERS coming into Ipswich today were struggling to cope with the closure of one of the town's busiest roads after a day of chaos.Vehicles at one of the busiest retail centres in the town were trapped for up to two-and-a-half hours because of the closure of Handford Road for resurfacing.
DRIVERS coming into Ipswich today were struggling to cope with the closure of one of the town's busiest roads after a day of chaos.
Vehicles at one of the busiest retail centres in the town were trapped for up to two-and-a-half hours because of the closure of Handford Road for resurfacing.
And today one business in the area warned that the closure was strangling them.
Jonathan Williamson, from Wines of Interest, said: "We only had two customers yesterday.
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"And this is the time of the year when business should be building up towards Christmas – this work is a disaster for us," he said.
Signs warning about the road closure had been put up last week – but it still took many drivers by surprise.
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Yesterday the closure of Handford Road near the junction of Burlington Road caused traffic to build up to the Yarmouth Road traffic lights and beyond.
Gridlock built up around the junction, and cars were trapped in the Suffolk Retail Park for up to two and a half hours.
Frustrated drivers said they were unable to get any help from the police or the council.
David Blundell was one of the drivers trapped in the retail park – he said everyone was especially frustrated because there was no clear reason for the chaos.
The roadworks were several hundred yards from the retail park – and there were signs warning motorists that the road was closed but still cars attempted to drive past them.
Eventually police officers did try to control traffic at the Yarmouth Road junction, but their directions caused more confusion for motorists because the traffic lights were still working and drivers did not know whether to obey these or the police hand signals.
Ipswich council arranged the resurfacing work because it hopes to complete it before the next home match at Portman Road.
"We have three weeks before the next match and we should get the work completed well before then," said a council spokesman.
"In fact if the weather continues to be kind to us, it should be completed before the town's Christmas lights are switched on.
"We want this to be all completed before the town gets busy in the run-up to Christmas."
Mr Williamson criticised the timing of the work.
"No one is saying the road doesn't need to be resurfaced, but this is the wrong time to do it.
"I can see that they wanted to miss the football matches, but why couldn't they have done it at the end of July?
"The schools are out then and there's much less traffic on the roads – this is a busy time of the year and there is chaos here."
Mr Williamson is a governor of nearby St Matthews School and said the road closure had caused serious problems for parents – St Matthews is a church school and has pupils from a large area of Ipswich, many of whom are taken there by car.
The council defended the timing of the road closure: "There will never be a good time for this work. It's a busy road at all times of the year, including the summer.
"The work was very necessary and we hope it will be completed very quickly," said the borough spokesman.