BRIDPORT is braced for weeks of traffic misery as road and water works cause chaos in the town centre.
Traders have spoken out about concerns that the works – expected to last three weeks – could harm their businesses at the start of the crucial summer season.
Essential three-week-long sewer repair work is being carried out by HSBC Bank, East Street at the same time Dorset County Council plans to close parts of and fix the B3162, one of the roads ravaged by winter storms.
Many small local businesses are worried that the work, which will see three temporary traffic lights and two road closures, will have a ‘detrimental’ impact on trade in and around the town.
Wessex Water started work to repair a collapsed sewer on Monday.
The existing traffic lights at the junction of East, West and South Streets have been turned off and replaced with temporary lights.
Road surface repairs also mean a temporary road closure will be put in place on the B3162 North Allington and Dottery Road between Monday, 9, and Friday, June 13, between 9am and 4pm.
The closures will return from Monday, June 16, for six days.
It comes as part of a council initiative to use £5.8m from the government’s emergency fund to repair the county’s roads.
Sandy Manson, manager of Good News store on East Street, said: “These road closures seem to be a normal event for Bridport.
“They have a detrimental impact on small businesses as our customers have not got easy access to the shop.”
Alan Holland, owner of Washingpool Farm Shop on the B3162, said: “It is very disappointing because it is a busy time of year and our customers won’t be able to get to us.
“Last year they closed the road near Salway Ash and it had an impact on our business.”
He added: “It would make more sense to do the work overnight.”
Bob Cadnam, of Bridport Sport shop, said: “Hopefully, this will not impact our business but this isn’t to say that it won’t.
“We will just wait and see as Bridport is so up and down anyway.”
Town councillor Karl Wallace said: “These works are causing me concern as yet again we are going into the summer season with road closures at just the time loads of tourists are coming.
“More co-ordination is needed between the highways, town council and the utilities.
“The local businesses are right to be worried because it will have an impact on them.”
Kevin Cheleda, of Dorset County Council’s highways team, said: “We had the county council works planned but the sewer work has come in and needs doing so we will aim to work together to get it all done.”
Wessex Water wrote to local people to make them aware about the planned work and the company arranged for electronic signs to be in place to warn motorists approaching the town centre from the A35.
Wessex Water said work would not be carried out on Saturdays following a request from the council to minimise any noise and disruption to the Saturday market.
Carl Little, Wessex Water’s construction manager for the scheme, said: “The repairs are essential to ensure we continue to maintain sewerage services for residents and businesses.
“Unfortunately the work will take slightly longer than usual because the sewer is almost three metres underground and other utilities are in the area where we have to excavate.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the emergency repair work, which we will complete as quickly as possible.”