The gridlock which brought north Birmingham’s road network to a grinding halt this week was predicted a few days earlier by Councillor Tristan Chatfield, during a meeting of the council’s transport scrutiny committee.
The backbencher’s Oscott ward covers parts of Kingstanding and Great Barr where vast housing estates feed four commuter routes which all converge on the mess that is Perry Barr.
Only those using the A34 underpasses between the M6 junction 7 and the city centre ever get a smooth ride – for everyone else queues are routine at peak times.
The road layout around the One Stop Shopping Centre, Greyhound Racing Stadium and university campus is a mess of one-way systems, a tangle of routes and the tiny Aston Lane roundabout.
So when a power failure and heavy rain combined to flood the Birchfield Road underpass on Tuesday it was no surprise that the repercussions were felt for miles around with roads blocked or congested for hours on end.
Cards on the table, I am a regular car and bus user in area and was one of those caught up.
I managed to find a circuitous route avoiding the worst and was only 50 minutes late for my first meeting.
There were others who endured so much worse.
Before it all happened Coun Chatfield said: “Our roads, especially Aldridge Road are clogged day and night, and all routes lead into Perry Barr where the road network is an absolute nightmare.”
His point was that, despite being an almost entirely residential area, that part of the city is very poorly served by public transport – no rail, no metro or trams and, except for the A34 itself where there are dedicated lanes, buses wait in the same queues as everyone else.
The last time there was any significant investment in public transport was almost 20 years ago when it got a Showcase bus route with live arrival information and the first of a new fleet of modern buses.
Anyone taking those buses today literally has to go around the houses taking a tour of every side street on their way anywhere.
Meanwhile, the councillor says he has watched Metro extensions and Sprint rapid transit schemes shelved and put to the back of the queue.
Both Coun Chatfield and his colleague Coun Linnecor have called for an inquiry into the chaos.
While the temptation will be to focus on the very real issues of the pump system and its failing power supply – and why the problem was not spotted earlier – there also needs to be a look at the broader issues of road management.
Coun Linnecor has put forward the following questions:
* Why did it apparently take eight hours between the police closing the underpass and Amey’s repair team turning up?
* Why were the Fire Service not called out to deal with the flooding, the gridlock around the area caused by this surely constituted a potential threat to life?
* Where were the police and Amey traffic engineers to manually control the traffic and traffic signals to help ease congestion?
* Why wasn’t parking prohibited outside shops on Birchfield Road, which as a consequence all traffic had to squeeze into one lane?
As cars joined the queues at junctions further away, like Old Horns and Scott Arms, there were no early warnings, no one in a reflective jacket guiding people away from the blockage.
So traffic management certainly needs to be looked at.
The longer term also needs to be considered.
Next month the council is due to release the Birmingham Mobility Action Plan – a 20-year plan for the city, and those in this part of the world will be hoping that their transport network is near the top of the list.
There is, as the council has stated, plans for a £9.6 million investment in the A34 corridor – partly to help it recover from the impending loss of the Birmingham City University Campus.
That move also presents planners with some space and an opportunity to reconfigure the dreadful Perry Barr road network, sort out the awful pedestrian subways and grotty subterranean rail station and do something about the tiny roundabout which is a supply route to Villa Park and a major shopping centre.
But at a time when we are looking at an unprecedented investment in transport, much of it via HS2 and its spin-offs, they should make sure that there is also space for a rapid transit system – train, tram or bus – and then work to deliver it.
Regular readers will be familiar with the bus lane debacle and repercussions of issuing fines to thousands of drivers who had no warning they were in a bus-only area.
The council transport department has repeatedly stated there are sound legal reasons for not refunding fines to those drivers who did not complain at the time (even though they were discouraged by forfeiting a discount if they did).
Backbencher requests that this legal advice be explicitly shared have after several months been answered, along with the legal advice that bans them from giving a discount to anyone who appeals.
It is the latest example of an obsession with secrecy and private briefings which seems to have gripped the organisation of late. But that advice will now be shared in a private meeting with councillors.
Are the lawyers scared that the advice might not be as watertight as cabinet member Ali and his officers have previously stated? And that another lawyer might find holes in the argument?