Lerwick has been hit by traffic jams worthy of those featured on radio roads reports this week as ongoing work to replace water pipes converged on the town’s busiest junction.
The disruption started on Tuesday as traffic lights were erected at the Grantfield roundabout to allow sections of the road on either side to be dug up, virtually bringing five o’clock traffic to a halt.
Tailbacks of cars heading into the town stretched as far back as the J Burgess Garage while vehicles heading north out of town queued up along Lochside and past the entrance to the Toll Clock Shopping Centre.
Customers at the Co-op supermarket had to queue to get out of the car park and workers from the council’s Grantfield offices struggled to find their way into the stream of traffic.
On Wednesday morning the lights were still in place, causing disruption once again.
Head of SIC roads department Ian Halcrow said the delay was caused by ongoing efforts by Scottish Water to replace Lerwick’s pipes.
“The reason for the traffic lights is to allow for Scottish Water’s pipe laying works to take place in the vicinity of the junction. The even worse news is it’s likely to go on for some time yet.” The work is expected to take at least five weeks to complete, although depending on what the workmen find when they dig up the road, it could possibly take longer still.
This is not the first time works by Scottish Water have caused disruption in the town.
Last October businesses in Commercial Road reported a downturn in trade, as deep trenches were gouged into the road to allow that part of the £1.3 million pipe replacement project to take place.
The same work is also expected to take place between the Gilbert Bain Hospital and Bells Brae primary in the near future, although it is not yet known exactly when that will be.
A Scottish Water spokesman said: “Scottish Water is currently undertaking an extensive programme of mains renewal at Grantfield in Lerwick. The work will replace the old cast-iron mains with modern, durable plastic water mains.
“There is traffic management in place at the junction of North Lochside and North Road and alternative routes are available. The traffic management commenced on Tuesday and will last for around five weeks.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused to local road users. When completed, the new plastic water mains will be much sturdier and will improve water quality for the people of Lerwick.
“We have work going on at two other fronts at Clickimin Road and Mounthooly Street in this mains renewal programme. Work at those locations will continue for a few months.”