Ongoing gas mains work on a major Bradford road is causing tempers to fray among motorists.

Drivers are complaining of delays of more than 15 minutes as they try to get through works along Thornton Road, where engineers are repairing a damaged main.

Bradford Council’s lead member for transport has expressed sympathy with motorists and says the authority is trying to bring in a scheme which could cut down the length of time roadworks take.

But Northern Gas Networks said its original works finished on time and that a second phase was brought forward at the Council’s request – extending the disruption.

“I have picked up on the general discontent about the length of time it is taking to complete these works,” said Councillor Val Slater.

“It’s a common problem and one reason the Council is trying to introduce a permit scheme for utility companies when they start work on our major roads.

“This would involve them liaising with us and very tight contracts with penalties if deadlines are not met.”

The essential work Northern Gas Networks is carrying out in Thornton Road involves replacing a stretch of old, iron gas main with modern, more durable plastic pipes.

Taking place between the junctions of Listerhills Road and Quebec Street, the initial work was expected to last about eight weeks, but the start of the second phase has extended it.

Temporary traffic lights are said to be the root of much of the problems.

Coun Slater said: “We need to pin the utilities down here. We are waiting for Government permission for a permit scheme, similar to those which already operate in Leeds and Kirklees.

“I do appreciate that motorists are getting to the end of their tether and that is why we are trying to take action through the powers we have. Officers have been to the Department of Transport and I hope there will be action quite soon.”

One angry motorist said he was delayed by nearly half an hour when driving into Bradford this week.

“The temporary lights are a real problem,” he said. “When traffic turns right from the permanent lights, it can cause real congestion.”

The work in Thornton Road started last December.

NGN customer operations area manager Ian Cunningham said: “The work was completed on schedule at the end of January.

“However, at the request of Bradford Council highways department, a second phase of the mains replacement project, originally scheduled for later this year, was brought forward.

“This work on track for completion by Friday, April 11.”