THOUSANDS of motorists faced a morning of misery yesterday as Bournemouth came to a five-hour traffic standstill.
The main cause of the chaos was a single-vehicle accident on the A338 Wessex Way by the Cooper Dean roundabout which forced police to close the main artery for three hours.
And as drivers attempted to take different routes across town they found many main roads and side roads gridlocked.
A series of minor accidents in Charminster, at the Mountbatten Arms roundabout and further along the Wessex Way added to the chaos and confusion.
Tom Whild said it took him an hour and a half to drive from his gym in Branksome to his work by Bournemouth Hospital.
“It normally takes me about 20 minutes, but today I hit traffic just after Richmond Hill and it was just solid along the Wessex Way. I managed to get off at St Paul’s roundabout and just fought my way through Springbourne and Boscombe.
“I was just shocked as to how one serious accident can bring the town to a standstill. It shows how fragile our road network is.”
The road closure also caused problems for bus and taxi firms.
Ian O’Connor, chairman of United Taxis, said: “It just caused us utter chaos and made all our jobs run late. Out of 130 cars we only had 10 free and about 80 jobs running late.”
And Wilts & Dorset said part of their network was also severely delayed with five of their key routes affected. Some routes faced delays of over an hour.
Commercial manager Nikki Honer said: “Fortunately, as many of our customers are able to access Facebook and Twitter we did our best to keep everyone informed of the situation.”
And Jenni Wilkinson, Yellow Buses’ head of marketing, said: “When an arterial road such as this closes the impact is felt across the network as local traffic looks for alternative routes.
“Services were badly affected for several hours even after the road opened.”
The accident at the centre of the chaos happened on the northbound carriageway just before 6am when a silver Subaru Impreza flipped into a field, rolled several times on to the carriageway and caught alight.
The driver was thrown from the vehicle before it landed on the road and caught alight.
Paramedics assessed him before he was taken to Poole General Hosp-ital.
His injuries were described as not life-threatening.
Police closed the road at the Cooper Dean roundabout and it was eventually re-opened at 9am.
A Dorset Police spokesman said the road closure was necessary to allow the emergency services to deal with the serious incident.
“The seriousness of the inj-uries were not known immediately and the injured party had to be assessed at the time. The fire service also attended and the local authority were called to ensure the road was safe to re-open.
“We also had to escort the recovery vehicle through the traffic.”
The accident caused widespread traffic chaos with knock-on effects on Castle Lane East and West, Holdenhurst Road, King’s Park, Queens Park, Boscombe and surrounding side roads.
Many drivers took to Twitter to vent their frustration.
Andy Hunt said: “Brilliant, left my house in Charminster, drove round for two hours and decided to head back home until later.”
Sam Brightwell added: “Gave up trying to get the kid to school. Enjoying a happy morning at home.”
And another wrote: “Why does it take three hours to shift the car? 9am and car still sat in middle of carriageway with nothing on going.”
Damien Farney said traffic was backed up on Castle Lane all the way to Malvern Road in Moordown, with all side roads affected.
Timeline of accidents
6am – Single vehicle serious but non-life threatening accident on northbound carriageway of A338 saw the road closed for three hours. Traffic was backed up to Richmond Hill roundabout and along both lanes of Castle Lane East and West.
8am – Charminster Road, at the junction of Charminster Place, was blocked following a two-vehicle accident involving a red Renault Clio and black Skoda Fabia. No one was injured.
8.50am – A two-vehicle accident also happened on the northbound carriageway of the A338 Wessex Way by the Richmond Hill roundabout. One lane was blocked while paramedics tended to one of the drivers at the scene.
8.54am – Two vehicles, a Skoda Fabia and a Toyota Yaris, were involved in an accident on Ringwood Road between the Mountbatten Arms roundabout and the Alderney roundabout. No one was injured but the road was partially blocked.
9.26am – A reader reported that a car had crashed into the roundabout outside Castlepoint on Castle Lane West. Police were not told.