A NEW bridge in Weymouth will finally be lifted into place this weekend filling a 25-year-old gap.

The new footbridge over Newstead Road will join up two parts of the Rodwell Trail, the path and cycleway which follows the old railway line from the town centre to Ferrybridge.

The old railway bridge was demolished in 1987 to make way for road improvements.

Newstead Road has been closed northbound to traffic since October when Dorset County Council started work to install the new bridge.

County engineers say the structure will be lifted into place over the forthcoming weekend following delays but the work will not be completed until early next month where the road will be open both ways again.

Landlady Debbie Pollard of the nearby Rock Hotel said: “I wouldn’t say the road closure has affected business because people either walk to the pub or get taxis but it has affected us personally because we have to drive round the long way.

“We were told it would all be done and dusted this month but it’s clearly going on beyond that.

“I suppose it’s good that it’s happening now rather than in the summer when it will be absolute chaos.”

A spokesman for Asda said: “The road closure has affected business because customers are struggling to get here or are avoiding the area altogether.

“Having said that, we appreciate the works have to be done.

“We look forward to the road being open both ways again.”

The bridge was due to be lifted into place last weekend. The council said contractors had reorganised the work programme, with the steel deck’s delivery pushed back while other tasks have been brought forward.

Newstead Road will be closed in both directions from 7pm on Friday until 6am on Monday.

After this, the northbound closure will be reinstated until work finishes on March 6.

Chief engineer at Dorset County Council John Burridge said: “The work on a new bridge at Newstead Road for the Rodwell Trail is going very well.

“Newstead Road is closed to traffic northbound, with traffic being diverted to Westwey Road.”

Mr Burridge explained work was halted for a week over Christmas with the road closure remaining in place to avoid ‘confusion’.

He said: “Over Christmas the work was stopped for one week during which the road closure remained so that public disruption was less – opening then re-closing the road for one week would have caused some confusion for local residents so the decision was taken to keep it closed until the works are complete.”

Mr Burridge added: “The road will be closed both ways for a short time when the bridge itself is installed.

“Once the bridge is installed there will be works to surface the bridge after which the road will be fully open in both directions.”

Rising costs forced the council to alter the design of the bridge. The project will cost £835,000, with funding coming from the council, a Big Lottery fund grant financing schemes put forward by cycle charity Sustrans and the Olympic Delivery Authority.

Weymouth and Portland councillor for the area Ian James said he was pleased to see work progressing.

He said: “It’s been a long-time coming and I’m delighted that it will be open soon because it will connect two parts of the Rodwell Trail.

“I realise the road has been closed one way but I think the disruption has been minimal, it’s not brought the town to a grinding halt.”