A day after a major bridge was closed to eastbound traffic, it was near-gridlock for drivers trying to get from Vic West into downtown Victoria.

The first traffic jam occured during the Wednesday morning rush. At around 8:45 a.m., southbound traffic on Tyee Road was backed up to past Wilson Street, presumably by drivers who are no longer able to take the Bay Street Bridge from Vic West into downtown.

Drivers on Esquimalt Road were backed up from the Johnson Street Bridge up to Catherine Street, past Victoria West Park.

Witnesses said some drivers were stuck at the intersection of Tyee Road and Esquimalt Road through more than two light changes. Three route 15 BC Transit buses could be seen within a span of about 50 metres.

Just before 10 a.m., traffic was still backed up on Tyee Road about three-quarters of the way to Wilson Street, while Esquimalt Road was still backed up to around Vic West Park.

The issues flared up once again for the Wednesday evening after-work commute. Cars were once again backed up in the eastbound lanes of Esquimalt Road from Tyee to Head Street, a distance of 1.8 kilometres. Even Harbour Road, along the waterfront in Vic West, was jammed up.

Similar issues were reported during the Tuesday night commute, the first following the bridge lane closure. One BC Transit passenger said it ended up being faster for her to walk than to take the bus.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said it was the worst traffic she's ever seen.

"I've never seen it backed up that badly," she said. 

Desjardins said her community would be challenged during the bridge construction because of other major infrastructure projects tying up roadways.

"This summer is going to be a challenge because of, as well, the work that the wastewater treatment process is going to create going across Tillicum Bridge," said the mayor. "Admirals is a challenge, Tillicum is a challenge, this is the challenge of a community that is connected by bridges."

The traffic chaos comes after crews shut down eastbound lanes of the Bay Street Bridge as construction work got underway. The work is expected to last five months.

While businesses in the area have asked for single-lane alternating traffic on the bridge, city officials said they explored the idea but ultimately decided it would have been too disruptive.

Traffic signals at the Johnson Street Bridge were to be adjusted to help accommodate the expected surge in westbound traffic.