THE Army and Navy roundabout was plunged into chaos this week when roadworks reduced parts of it to just one lane of traffic.
Chelmsford's busiest junction ground to a halt on Monday when National Grid coned off sections of the roundabout and its approaches, causing huge tailbacks during the morning and evening rush hours.
But Essex County Council's highways department – which had been oblivious to the works until the chaos ensued – complained to National Grid and the restrictions were partly lifted by Tuesday.
Trudi Seeley, a controller at Chelmsford Taxi Bus, said: "It's been absolutely horrendous. The roadworks have made us late to a lot of things this morning like school runs.
"Whatever work they're doing, it shouldn't be done on a Monday morning. That's just really bad planning."
The county council's highways department came under fire recently for allowing a string of roadworks – all going ahead at the same time – to bring Chelmsford town centre to a standstill.
Rob Luton, owner of Chelmsford Express Couriers, based just off the roundabout, said: "I went to a job at the sewage works to pick something up and had to go down to Springfield Road to get there because the traffic was just a bottleneck. I had to take a really long way round.
"There are so many roadworks going on at the moment, like the restrictions in Lawn Lane. A lot of cars use that road to cut through to get to the Army and Navy but that's been closed for a long time now too.
"Perhaps they should pay staff a little bit more to work on Sundays when the roads are not as busy."
An Essex County Council spokesman said: "We weren't really aware of this until the chaos started because a big company like National Grid doesn't have to tell us what it's doing.
"But because of the problems the roadworks caused we did speak to them on Monday and they agreed to reduce them."
Anthony Quarrel, of National Grid, said: "We are currently replacing several kilometres of gas mains in the area of the Army and Navy roundabout in Chelmsford.
"This work involves replacing ageing metallic gas mains with tough new plastic pipes.
"The work is essential and will help ensure the people of Chelmsford continue to enjoy the safe and reliable gas supplies that make everyday activities such as cooking and heating homes, workplaces and community facilities possible."
He added: "We are in talks with the council in regard to securing a closure of a small stretch of Baddow Road.
"The closure would affect the side of the carriageway leading on to the Army and Navy roundabout. The closure is required in order to carry out part of the vital gas mains replacement work which we are currently carrying out.
"Traffic management is in place and at this stage we anticipate that the road closure will be implemented for four to six weeks from October 17."
"We will do all it can to deliver this vital work as promptly as possible with a minimum of inconvenience."
An Essex County Council spokesman added: "Officers from ECC Highways met with contractors at the site on Monday afternoon, and concluded that the level of traffic management in place was not required.
"The traffic management was removed later that afternoon. ECC will work with the contractors on future phases of the scheme to ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum."