A KEY road into Oxford came to a standstill today after month-long works got under way to repair an historic bridge.

The next phase of work began last night at the Grade-II listed Folly Bridge, over which Abingdon Road carries traffic in and out of the city.

The £500,000 project had already began earlier this month but yesterday temporary traffic lights were put up knocking the lane down to one.

The route is one of the busiest in the city, and regularly sees about 15,000 vehicles crossing it each day.

As rush hour began this morning, there were reports of 'severe' delays and traffic was backed up all the way to the ring road. 

One bus user on Twitter, who had waited 30 minutes for a bus on Cowley Road, branded the delays 'unacceptable'. 

As evening rush hour hit this evening, congestion once again gripped the city's roads.

Oxford Mail:

Traffic in Oxford at 5.20pm 

Drivers are advised to find an alternative route if driving into the city from the south.

Commuters vented their frustration while stuck in standstill traffic earlier today. 

One driver, Stuart Lang, said it was the worst queues he had seen on that stretch in some years.

He said: "I am losing the will, it has just been gridlock. Stop start all the way back from the ring road.

"I have to get to work and it is just a nightmare waiting here."

Another commuter, a cyclist, said that she had found it more difficult than usual, having to weave in and out of the cars.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "It is definitely worse than usual, with all of the cars.

"It is harder for cyclists having to weave in and out more.

"I am a fairly new commuter to the city but it is difficult with all of the cars on the road."

Shop owner Abdul Rouf of Folly Bridge Stores, situated at the north end of the bridge, said it had been 'a struggle.'

The 65-year old, who has ran the store for 23 years, said: "It will make a difference because people won't stop here and it will hit my business.

"It will be a real problem and I also will not be able to have deliveries, I won't be able to get my supplies because of the works.

"It's going to be a pain and business has been slow anyway with the opening of the Tesco nearby.

"I may have to close up if I can't get my supplies for the whole month."

The A34 was also very slow southbound, with queues and stop-start traffic all the way from the M40 to the Hinksey Interchange.

Oxford Mail:

Traffic shown on Google Maps at 8am

Work started on the bridge on September 4 and temporary traffic lights will now be in place 24 hours a day.

A footpath will be in place for pedestrians at all times.

Disruption will last until October 20, ahead of the Westgate Centre’s official opening four days later.

Work on the bridge, which was built in 1820, can only take place during certain parts of the year because of bats which live underneath it and move away twice a year.

They have been temporarily roosted at a site further down the city’s stretch of the River Thames.

Work to repair the west side of the bridge is pencilled in for next spring.