RUSH hour congestion along Wootton Bassett Road and Kingshill Road has been causing a nightmare for commuters.

Essential maintenance work being carried out by Thames Water on Wootton Bassett Road is slowing journeys to a crawl with queues of traffic stretching from Old Town to Mannington roundabout.

The cabinet member for transport at Swindon Borough Council has been caught up in the queues, having to abandon his car and cycle in to a crucial meeting on Monday night.

Tristan Foot, 34, had been caught up in the traffic for the first time since it started this week.

“I’m starting to wish I had gone another way,” he said. “This is the first time I have got stuck in it, but my wife was stuck coming back from Wroughton for about 40 minutes yesterday.”

Another motorist, who did not wish to be named, said: “It is absolutely terrible considering the Bruce Street Bridges are out as well with roadworks. This road was bad before all this started, and now it is just horrendous.”

Others were less aggravated with the situation.

Gavin Calthrop, 40, said: “It is what it is really. They are trying to improve things, so we have got to put up with it for a while. I can understand what they are trying to do.”

Keith Williams, cabinet member for highways, strategic transport and leisure, was late for a scrutiny meeting after becoming stuck in the jams.

“Both sets of traffic lights were backing up which caused quite extensive tailbacks along Great Western Way,” he said. “My initial concern was it was an accident, but when I realised it was a result of the tailbacks from Wootton Bassett Road I headed back to the west and got my bike to cycle in.

“A lot of the congestion is around early evening with people coming off Junction 16. It builds up when the traffic lights are changing at Mannington roundabout.

“I have been speaking to our highways team to see what options are open to us, but we believe the work being carried out by Thames Water is essential.

“Drivers tend to adapt quite readily and will find alternative routes. The problem we find is because the traffic tailbacks stretch beyond Great Western Way people can’t take that route around and go up Croft Hill.

“We also have some drivers who are blocking the road and not keeping the flows open, and that causes an additional problem.

“We are looking at putting box junction markings on Mannington roundabout in to reinforce the fact that people should not impede the road. “That is work scheduled for later this year.”

Meanwhile, the Wichelstowe bypass has reopened giving drivers an alternative way into Old Town.

Thames Water said the work was part of a major project which had been ongoing since August.

A spokesman for Thames water said: “Our temporary traffic lights in Wootton Bassett Road went out of synch this morning. “We are replacing them as a top priority to avoid any further traffic disruption, and are sorry for any delays this caused.”