COMMUTERS face more weeks of traffic misery on the outskirts of Newport with massive tailbacks - even bringing junctions leading off the M4 to standstill.

Work on the main drains in Bassaleg are causing long rush hour tailbacks on Forge Lane and Caerphilly Road - obstructing one of the main corridors to Junction 28 of the M4 motorway, and grinding Junction 27 to a halt as motorists try to beat the queues.

Businesses in the village say their trade collapsed within hours of temporary lights being put up on Monday - with some customers complaining that they had been trapped in traffic queues for up to an hour.

The roadworks will last five weeks, as Welsh Water carries out a 12-week scheme, upgrading the sewerage network to increase storm capacity.

Village postmistress, Patricia Blake, said: "These works are really affecting businesses on this road. Yesterday, the traffic was nose-to-tail all day. No one will stop at the post office now.

"It's taking residents 45 minutes to an hour to get through the village when it used to take three minutes."

Murad Ali opened Bassaleg Pharmacy a month ago. He said: "I've put everything I have into it - now they say the roadworks will last five weeks. God knows whether I will still be in business by then!" Cottage Tearooms owner Theresa James said: "Something like this could cause closure. We had no-one in yesterday - not a soul - till 12.40pm."

Welsh Water spokeswoman Elizabeth Warwick said: "The scheme will give environmental benefits to local water courses and reduce the risk of sewage flooding properties in the area.

"We apologise for the inconvenience." Meadgate Homes is building nine new properties on Forge Lane - but director Kevin Trow stressed the roadworks were nothing to do with the new development.

Meadgate has requested connection works be completed while the road was already up, to reduce disruption.

The tailbacks in Bassaleg are just the latest traffic jams to hit the city. On Cardiff Road traffic lights and bus lanes are blamed for long delays. Work on the £50m Southern Distributor Road (SDR),will continue to cause queues around Port Ebbw roundabout and Spytty until its completion next May or June.

And the £15m remodelling of junction 28 of the M4 at Tredegar Park begins in Autumn 2004.