Police are helping to deal with tailbacks being caused by a council traffic survey on two of Sunderland’s major river crossings.
Meanwhile public transport bosses have also hit out at the decision to carry out the checks during rush hour.
Teams are carrying out a census on the Wearmouth Bridge and Queen Alexandra Bridge today, with the stops causing jams along Wessington Way to Southwick, up Newcastle Road, along Dame Dorothy Street to Roker’s seafront and throughout the city centre.
The checks are expected to continue until 7pm and are part of research for Sunderland City Council’s long-term traffic plans, including the new bridge over the River Wear.
A spokesman said: “The council has been conducting a major traffic survey to help understand driver journeys and their destinations.
“This research is to help inform more detailed plans for the £45million Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor Phase 3.
This is expected to cause some delays however, where possible, officers will help maintain the flow of traffic.Northumbria Police
“This is for a continuous dual-carriageway from the A19, into Pallion, Deptford, Farringdon Row and to the Port of Sunderland.
“More detailed plans for this route are due to confirmed next year with a view to works starting in 2017.”
A spokesman for Northumbria Police, which has officers on scene to support the survey workers, said: “The council will be speaking to motorists travelling over the Wearmouth Bridge and the Queen Alexandra Bridge in Sunderland as part of the survey
“This is expected to cause some delays however, where possible, officers will help maintain the flow of traffic.”
Stagecoach North East has also issued a message to passengers because of the delays caused in Sunderland as well as South Shields.
It has said traffic is down to one lane on the bridges.
Robin Knight, commercial director of the firm, said: “This census has had a devastating impact on the road network and we expect the disruption to continue and indeed to increase as the afternoon peak approaches.
“We had no advance warning of the council’s intentions.
“We have subsequently raised the matter at the highest levels within the local council and the North East Combined Authority.
“We have as yet received no response. The effects will also be felt in South Shields due to the delays caused to our E services.
“Our sincerest apologies go out to our customers for the disruption that this census work has caused to their day.
“We can only imagine the effect that it will be having on city centre businesses.”
The spokeswoman added: “We advise passengers to allow more time for their journey today and will do our utmost to keep services running.”
Among those affected were Lynn Hogg, 46, from Ashbrooke, who took her son Liam, 17, to Sunderland College’s St Peter’s campus.
Lynn, who works for BT, said: “They have closed off a lane of the bridge so that they can hand out postcard sized census papers, which we are supposed to complete and return for a chance of winning three £100 prizes.
“The logic of doing this at peak time is absolutely beyond me, it caused my son to be 45 minutes late for college, and me 90 minutes late for work and I’m supposed to then be willing to complete a piece of card to help them with the census.
“I rang the council to complain and was told they were trying to find out who was doing it – considering the address on the card is Sunderland City Council in Sunderland I would have thought that was pretty obvious, but just an example of how completely out of touch Sunderland City Council actually are that they would cause such mayhem and be completely clueless or indifferent to the inconvenience caused in the process.”
Dad-of-four Craig Garner, 37, from Millfield, said his nine-year-old daughter Ellie is “heartbroken” after she was late for classes at Castletown Primary, scuppering her chances of winning an award for full attendance just three weeks into the new academic year.
“This is absolutely crazy. It’s causing havoc for everybody.”
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