Motorists have been caught in tailbacks on the A127 even before work starts on the busy Bell Junction.

Work is underway on preliminary gas works ahead of a major scheme to widen the junction.

While press releases ahead of the work warned of the closure of the north-bound lane in Rochford Road during the gas works, there has been little warning about the placement of cones restricting one lane on the approach to the junction.

This has lead to long delays with traffic backed up to the Tesco roundabout at times. Southend Council insists it did publicise the A127 lane closure saying “it was shared on our main @SouthendBC Twitter and on the better Southend Twitter page”.

Ron Woodley, cabinet member for transport, capital and inward investment, said: “Phase three of the diversionary gas works at The Bell junction are progressing well.

“Both Cadent and UK Power Networks have been working collaboratively, and working weekends to minimise disruption and speed up completion of any necessary lane closures.”

Mr Woodley added: “It anticipated that the phase three works and associated lane closures – A127 Southend bound ahead of the Bell junction and Rochford Road closure – will be completed on March 15 depending on working and weather conditions.

“Once complete, Cadent will start phase four of the works London bound.

“We apologise for any inconvenience whilst these important preparatory works take place.

“We will be sharing further information regarding the next phase of works shortly.”

Long-suffering motorists endured years of disruption over a similar scheme at Kent Elms junction.

Delays on that scheme were mostly caused by underground service pipes and cables having to be moved or relayed several times.

This time, the council is getting this work done before work begins on the junction.