Exasperated residents have discovered this week that six months of work to the A1 bridge to the south of Alnwick are to take place next year.
And while many will accept the need for repairs to this major trunk road, motorists may question why such extensive work is being carried out on the same bridge that was repaired in 2010/11 – causing disruption for more than a year.
The Gazette contacted A-one+, the managing contractor for the Highways Agency, to find out, but received no response at the time of going to press, although we understand that the works three years ago were only to one side of the bridge.
This latest work – refurbishment of the bridge structure – is scheduled to start on February 2 and be completed by August 28, weather-permitting.
During the six-month period, the southbound carriageway of the A1 will be closed with a contraflow system in place on the northbound side featuring a 50mph speed limit.
This will run from just north of the Alnwick south interchange about two miles down to just north of the Hitchcroft junction (the southern junction to Shilbottle).
On top of this, the A1068 road to Shilbottle will be restricted to one-way traffic, which will be controlled by manually operated traffic lights.
Alnwick Chamber of Trade chairman, Carlo Biagioni, was a regular critic of the delays to the project – and its effect on the town – a few years ago.
“They took so much time already, about three years ago,” he said. “After the Japanese tsunami, they had already built 30 new bridges and here they took over a year to do one bridge.
“Any roadworks make it more difficult for businesses. I think it’s going to be a nightmare for businesses, not just in the town, but in the industrial estates, especially in the summertime.”
Following discussions with other traders, he added that it would be helpful to try to promote a different route into the town during the disruption.
UPDATE: 1pm on Thursday, December 11
A Highways Agency spokeswoman said: “We have recently written to local people to inform them of work on the bridge which carries the A1 over the junction at Willowburn Avenue in Alnwick which is due to start in February next year and is expected to continue until the autumn.
“While this work is in progress there will be a contraflow in place on a 1-to-2km section of the A1. There will also be traffic signals on the road below the bridge and some diversions will be required during short periods while access to the A1 from Alnwick is restricted.
“The work is needed because the bridge is almost 50 years old and the concrete supports are in poor condition, and in need of repair. This work is the second phase of similar work that was carried out to one half of the bridge in 2011. While the repairs to the supports are being carried out we will also carry out other necessary maintenance work on the bridge reducing the need for further traffic restrictions.”