Streets across Moray’s biggest town were brought to a standstill due to work being carried out on a single drain.
Council crews reduced the entrance to Elgin’s Edgar Road to one-way traffic from the A941 Rothes road so the repairs could be carried out.
However, the backlog of vehicles spread across the town over the railway bridge and as far as the A96 Inverness road in one direction, to the Cottar Hoose roundabout along Linkwood Road in another while queues of shoppers snaked through the Asda car park.
Tailbacks gradually grew worse throughout the afternoon before the route was reopened in both directions at about 3pm with two cones left at the scene to stop cars driving over the problem.
Moray Council stressed the repairs to the gully were essential to ensure the road could continue to be used safely and no work would be needed at the site today.
Elgin City South councillor John Divers, who got caught in the jams twice during the afternoon, believes the congestion shows how dependent the town’s transport system is on the Edgar Road roundabout.
He said: “It appeared as if the traffic getting held at The Wards for the level crossing was making it worse because it was all getting release at the same time.
“People still have arguments about the fact we didn’t go ahead with the Western Link Road but this just shows how much traffic goes over that bridge.
“It only takes something relatively small like this and you could see how the disruption just spread out from there.”
Drivers on social media questioned why temporary traffic lights had not been used to try and minimise the disruption in the area.
A Moray Council spokesman explained the work was essential to ensure the street could continue to be used safely.
He said: “A gully has collapsed on the road. The work was timed for the school holidays to try and minimise the disruption. It should be back to normal on Tuesday.”