Beds, Herts & Bucks

Hitchin bridge works close main road

Traffic problems are expected in North Hertfordshire as roadworks close a main road for three months.

The A505 Cambridge Road in Hitchin, the main route between the town and Letchworth, is shut so that Walsworth Bridge can be strengthened.

The road in the vicinity of the bridge is completely closed from the roundabout with St Michael's Road to the entrance to The Millstream pub.

Pedestrian access to businesses is being maintained.

'Huge impact'

Diversion signs direct traffic via the A1(M) at Stevenage or the B197, resulting in a detour of up to 10 miles (16.1km) for motorists.

Jackie Pope, landlady of The Millstream, told the BBC: "Our pub is slap-bang in the middle of the road closure so it's going to have a huge impact.

"We usually have a large lunchtime trade, but with the diversions in place, our regular customers simply won't have time to come here for lunch.

"We'll be open for the whole three months and will just have to wait and see how badly it affects us," she said.

Hitchin town centre manager Keith Hoskins said it was a "big blow" to local businesses, but said were still three other direct routes into the town.

'Essential' repairs

Construction work planned for the bridge includes temporary arch supports, deep excavations and construction of a reinforced concrete saddle.

The existing parapets are to be removed and new ones installed. Hertfordshire Highways expect the closure to be in place until 26 May 2011.

Hertfordshire County Council said it appreciated that the work would cause disruption, but said it was "essential" and the road needed to close for safety reasons.

"However, there will be signs up to make it clear that businesses are open as usual and are accessible by foot," it said.

"While it wasn't possible to carry out these bridge works at the same time as traffic light repairs, we have scheduled in resurfacing works at the same time so that we will not need to return at a later date to do further works.

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