COMMUTER were stuck with a nightmare journey to work after the A12 was closed for SIX HOURS after a broken down lorry began gushing oil.

The fuel tank on the HGV had burst as it travelled along the major trunk road at Spring Lane heading towards Ipswich.

Police were forced to shut both lanes of the northbound carriageway at Spring Lane shortly before 6am on Friday.

A clean up and recovery operation was then launched with traffic diverted into Colchester.

Roads around Stanway and in the town centre were clogged up with cars throughout the day.

One motorist said a journey from Sawbridgeworth on the Essex and Hertfordshire border to Tendring which should have taken an hour actually took three with roads including the Avenue of Remembrance and Cowdray Avenue becoming particular pinch points.

Elmstead Market also became busy with people trying to join the A120.

School buses were also hit with long delays and youngsters heading to classes at Colchester County High School for Girls, Colchester High School, Colchester Royal Grammar School and St Mary’s School were left scrambling to arrive in time for lessons.

The road reopened again at noon but residual delays remained for the rest of the day.

PC James Ireland from the North Essex Roads Policing Unit based in Stanway paid tribute to the work of Highways England engineers to clear the area as quickly as possible and thanked the public for their help.

He said: “The Highways England chaps worked their socks off on recovery.

“There were a few glitches.

“Thank you for your patience while this was dealt with.”

Two other crashes were reported on the opposite side of the A12 while the road was shut causing London-bound commuters problems.

Two lanes of the southbound carriageway were blocked between junction 20 at Hatfield Peverel and junction 19 at Boreham after a vehicle overturned.

There was also a crash at Marks Tey.

Fortunately, no-one was thought to have been badly hurt in the any of the incidents.