Frustrated motorists say they were stuck in traffic jams for up to two hours when roadworks commenced this week.

Work started along the A35 at Chideock on Monday morning, with 24-hour traffic signals put in place and the possibility of road closures.

Drivers say they experienced ‘ridiculous’ delays when they were caught up in lengthy tailbacks in both directions - eastbound, as far as the Crown roundabout in Bridport, and westbound as far as Charmouth.

With the work due to continue until Friday, May 4, Travel Dorset is warning drivers to expect delays and urging them to allow extra time for journeys.

Tracy Wood, who was travelling from Lyme Regis to West Bay on Monday morning, said: “It took two hours from Lyme. I [was] only making a delivery and then [had] to go back again. It’s a nightmare, and apparently there are six weeks of this to look forward to - to start in the Easter holidays is crazy.”

Charmouth resident Sarah McErlean, 51, said: “We have been advised for a while it was going to happen. The works have to be done and they have chosen probably the best time taking into account the weather and the volume of traffic. We just have to be patient. I need to travel regularly from Charmouth to Bridport and back to look after my father and have made allowances to my timing.

“Having said that, had the Chideock bypass been passed and put in place, none of us would be in this predicament. Chideock is now desperate for a bypass; the alternative routes do not work, due to narrow lanes, and drivers that don’t know how to navigate them, let alone emergency services that need to get through.

"On my journey I was very aware that an emergency service might need to get through and kept well in, sadly others stayed out in the middle of the road to see what the hold up was, some signs to advise drivers to keep in might help however so few people read them.”

And another motorist was travelling from Charmouth to Chidoeck when she became caught up in heavy traffic.

“It took one hour and 10 mins from Charmouth still nose to tail,” she said.

Highways England engineers are currently carrying out drainage repair work at the site.

A spokesman for the company said: “Essential drainage work started along a two-mile section of the A35 at Chideock ahead of planned resurfacing works.

“To minimise disruption, contractors are undertaking the work in a three-week window between the Easter Bank Holiday weekend and the first May Bank Holiday weekend, with temporary traffic lights in place for safety reasons. The work will be finished by approximately 11.30am each Friday and will not start again until 9.30am on each Monday.

“The work has been communicated in advance via roadside signage and letters to local communities, and we apologise for any inconvenience.

“In the meantime, we thank people for their patience during this essential work, and we advise drivers to plan their journeys and consider alternative routes where possible.”