Main Roads officials have been forced to make an embarrassing apology after the Perth city centre descended into traffic chaos earlier today.

Perth motorists have expressed their outrage on microblogging service Twitter, complaining of lengthy delays and poor communication.

Several routes in and out of the city were closed from 4am to allow for the running of the ITU long distance triathlon world championships.

It included the closure of the southbound Kwinana Freeway from the city to the Canning Highway exit.

But Main Roads spokesman Dean Roberts said inner city traffic was a “mess” by mid-morning and officials soon realised they had major a problem on their hands.

Mr Roberts said there were not enough detour signs in the city and Main Roads received numerous complaints from motorists who could not escape the gridlock.

“We apologise for the inconvenience and to those people who were stuck in a traffic jam and obviously we will review why it was a mess when it shouldn’t have been,” he said.

“People were getting caught in the city and they wanted to go south and they weren’t aware that that part of the freeway was closed.”

Mr Roberts said the closures had been advertised on radio and on digital display signs on the Freeway system over the past week but it was clear motorists had failed to pick up on the publicity.

Among the angry tweets were: "Major Major cock up. And only knew of road closures with cryptic msgs on traffic towers to call Main Roads last night."

"Dear Main Roads WA, Thanks for the lack of notice re: road closures ... No love, lotsa hate."

"what f...... closes a freeway?"

"You would think a freaking marathon would deserve publicity. Only in Perth would something like this NOT be mentioned."

The southbound Kwinana Freeway from the city to Canning Highway was expected to reopen by 1:45pm.

The West Australian

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