MAJOR gas pipe works brought traffic to a standstill in Burnley.

Hundreds of vehicles were left queuing as work started on renewing gas mains in the Westgate and Trafalgar Street area.

An angry trader questioned the timing of the work saying his business had been effectively cut off during the day.

After three-way temporary lights were installed at the junction of the two roads on Wednesday, traffic backed up along Active Way, the viaduct and past Burnley College.

There were also long tailbacks the main Gannow roundabout, off junction 10 of the M65, right down Westway.

Signs next to the roadworks warn drivers that the disruption will last for the next three weeks.

The work is being undertaken by National Grid and is one of the final stages of a £4.1million project renewing gas mains in Burnley and Pendle.

Robert Hayes, owns car parts firm Autopaint Discounts, on Arthur Street, described the disruption as 'terrible'.

He said: “Basically the business is blocked in by traffic queuing to get through the road works. Yesterday it took me more than 20 minutes to get from the lights at Finsley Gate to here. It would normally take just a minute.

“It’s obviously going to be very disruptive. Could they not have done the work on such a key junction over a weekend?

“It’s frustrating because it disturbs the working day and will obviously cause difficulties for my customers to get to and from here.”

Commuter Kimberley Hall, 29, travels by car from her home on Brunshaw Road, to Blackburn every week day.

She said: “It’s a key route in and out of Burnley and the delays are very frustrating.

“People will change their routes to get to and from the motorway but you have to remember that this week is school half-term and the roads are a lot quitter at peak times.

“I dread to think what it will be like on Monday morning.”

Bus passengers are also affected by the works with many services diverted.

A spokesman for Transdev said: “Due to extensive roadworks on Trafalgar Street from The Mitre past the main roundabout on to Centenary Way, we are having to divert buses running into and out of Burnley bus station.

“Into the bus station, buses are running down Lower Burnham Gate and on to Manchester Road, continuing into town.

“Out of the bus station, buses are running via the Empire, Queen's Lancashire Way, Manchester Road and Lower Burnham Gate.

“We are currently in discussion with Lancashire County Council to find out how long the diversion will need to be in place.”

Burnley Council leader Julie Cooper said she found the disruption 'undesirable' but the work would mean 'vital improvements'.

She said: “We are monitoring the situation but these works are essential and will have benefits to the town for decades to come.

“As well as improving the gas network, the work being undertaken will also provide infrastructure for the Weavers Triangle regeneration which is so important in that area of Burnley.”

Since last April the utility company has replacing 30km of old metal pipes with new plastic ones which they say will last for the next 80 years.

A spokesman for National Grid said it had given notice about the work and apologised for any inconvenience.

He said: “National Grid have used new technology to reduce the scale of road works where possible and have made sure that people affected by the work get information before it starts.”