TRAFFIC slowed to a crawl at bottlenecks on two of the Hunter’s major highways yesterday as thousands of motorists flooded back into the region from the long weekend.
Heatherbrae and Hexham were the worst affected, with traffic snarls flaring up about midday on the New England Highway and Pacific Highway and hanging around until late in the afternoon.
A Roads and Maritime Services spokesman said motorists heading south on the New England Highway between Beresfield and Hexham were met with four-kilometre-long queues.
And there were three-kilometre-long queues further north on the Pacific Highway at Bulahdelah.
A car accident on the New England at Tarro made heading south from Maitland slow going. a crash on the Pacific Highway near Twelve Mile Creek also caused headaches.
Meanwhile, further south on the M1 (F3), southbound traffic was banked up for 17kilometres at Warnervale, adding an extra 35minutes to travel time.
Southbound traffic was also affected between Alison and Wyee on the Central Coast, and the RMS listed delays as long as 25 minutes due to heavy holiday traffic.
NSW police launched Operation Slow Down on Friday, the annual state-wide, high-visibility, traffic enforcement operation focusing on drink-driving, speeding, fatigue and seatbelt offences.
Double demerit points finished last night.
The Hunter registered two fatal crashes during the period.
The acting traffic and highway patrol operations commander, Acting Superintendent Mark Cook, said motorists needed to heed the warnings to slow down and show caution.
SLUGGISH: Long queues of traffic return to the Hunter after the long weekend. Two people died in car crashes. Picture: Ryan Osland