Town suffers as bridge repairs rumble on

Paul Edgar at the roadworks on the A1 bridge next to the Willowburn roundabout in Alnwick.
Paul Edgar at the roadworks on the A1 bridge next to the Willowburn roundabout in Alnwick.

REPAIR works to a bridge outside Alnwick are causing a headache for traders, who say nothing seems to be happening despite months of disruption caused by temporary traffic lights.

The refurbishment of the Shilbottle underpass, part of the A1 Alnwick bypass, began on November 1 and will include concrete repairs, replacing bridge joints, realigning safety fencing, replacing the bridge parapet and carrying out waterproofing works.

It forms part of a wider resurfacing scheme between Snipe House and West Cawledge, on the north and southbound carriageways.

But while the section between Lanehead and West Cawledge was completed in January, the bridge works are expected to be finished in September 2011.

Paul Edgar, who is a partner at Cyclelife and Adventure Northumberland at Lionheart Enterprise Park, on the Shilbottle side of the roadworks, says it will affect his entire summer season.

“We have already raised concerns with the Highways Agency, so they provided signs to say where we are, but it is still having an impact on our business,” said Paul. “People are always complaining about the traffic lights and that nothing seems to be happening on the site.

“The contraflow on the A1 means some people are bypassing Alnwick altogether, while customers who are hiring our cycles are avoiding heading into town.

“A lot of them are going down the old railway line instead, to Alnmouth.

“It’s not only bad for us, it’s bad for the town in general.”

Carlo Biagioni, chairman of Alnwick Chamber of Trade, said: “We are aware that the roadworks and traffic lights under the A1 bypass are having an impact on people coming in to Alnwick, as part of the wider works on the bypass.

“We hope the Highways Agency can bring matters forward so that the disruption is minimised during the main tourist season. We can’t afford to lose any trade.”

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “We are working closely with the contractor to see if the anticipated completion by September can be brought forward.

“Again we stress that ensuring the safety of the bridge is of paramount importance. We are doing all we can at the moment to minimise delays for motorists and thank everyone for their patience while this very important work is carried out.”