Roadworks have left parts of Shoreham ‘totally gridlocked’ and brought ‘absolute misery’ to thousands of local people, a councillor has said.
Southern Water began essential work to repair part of the A259 in Brighton Road, just to the west of Norfolk Bridge, where the ground had sunk near a sewer rising main, on January 6.
Temporary traffic lights, which were being manually controlled, were put in place but commuters have faced long delays in backed up traffic.
The company confirmed the works had been completed today (Wednesday, January 15).
Councillor Joss Loader said: “These roadworks have brought absolute misery to thousands of local people trying to live their usual daily lives.
“People are telling me that they feel trapped on Shoreham Beach and are reluctant to take their cars out unless it’s really necessary.
“One poor woman was stuck in a 2.5 hour traffic jam as she tried to travel from work to collect her toddler from nursery.
“Another is leaving her car in North Shoreham and cycling the rest of the way home as the roads are totally gridlocked, often in pouring rain.
“Nobody doubts that these works aren’t essential. But why aren’t they working at night and at the weekend to secure earlier completion?
“Why isn’t the traffic managed more effectively to reflect the change in flows at rush hour?”
She thanked county councillor Kevin Boram, who she said had been ‘very proactive’ in trying to secure a long term solution for roadworks on the A259.
Mr Boram said the traffic management was ‘wholly inadequate’ and did not take into account the different flows of traffic during the day and its impact on Ropetackle roundabout.
He said: “Consequently, from having discussed this with senior officers and directors of WSCC and Southern Water, the contractors are taking into account the different traffic flows and manning the Ropetackle roundabout to improve flows on that junction and to radio the traffic light controller if there are any issues in order to change the timing of the lights.
“I accept there will have to be some degree of inconvenience arising from providing much needed housing, including affordable and social housing in Adur.
“But I do expect the resulting works to be undertaken in a manner that minimises that disruption.
“As the current situation is totally unacceptable, I have asked for a meeting with senior management of Southern Water, WSCC and other relevant agencies to urgently look at this issue in order to implement significantly improved traffic management and working practices that minimises disruption to this and other strategic routes.
“I have no doubt that this will cost more, but the negative impact of current practices on our community and on the south coast economy is totally unacceptable.”
A Southern Water spokesman thanked motorists for their patience and said: “We apologise for disruption motorists are facing but we are sure they will agree that this was necessary work.
“We had signage on the road for 10 days before work started warning of the start of work.”
A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: “We fully appreciate that this location is extremely busy, even without roadworks, and we are in constant contact with the water company and monitoring the situation closely.”
The council said it has asked Southern Water to consider night-time or weekend working, but said this would be the company’s decision based on its own risk assessment.
The works may be over, but councillor Catherine Arnold said she feared more disruption for motorists was in store.
From January 20, more roadworks will start at Mariners Point in Brighton Road, as well as in Freehold Street in Shoreham.
Mrs Arnold said: “I’m not criticising the council officers in any way, they are doing a really good job, but there is a lack of joined up communication and strategic planning going on.”
She said the majority of residents in Shoreham did not want overdevelopment, but said: “Now the community feel the brunt of said development roadworks on our daily lives.”
A spokesman for the county council said its street works team tried to plan and coordinate all activities that required space on West Sussex’s road network to minimise disruption as much as possible.
“Unfortunately, sometimes inconvenience is unavoidable, and we apologise for this,” the spokesman said.
“The A259 has a lot of properties and businesses along it and therefore a lot of utility apparatus is underneath the road.
“Utility companies have a statutory right to access their equipment to maintain and repair it.
“Some of these works can be prepared for and planned but a lot are unplanned emergencies, or need arranging at relatively short notice.
“Across West Sussex, the Street Works team also faces more and more difficult challenges in managing the road network, due to the sheer amount of home building and other development taking place and we have a duty to facilitate these works in a timely manner so that planning conditions can be met.”