WORK to improve a bridge that forms a key route into a town centre could take until the end of the year after further problems were found.
Haslar Bridge in Gosport has been closed to road traffic since June as a £1.4m scheme to improve the structure is carried out.
Although good progress is being made with the bridge, once the scaffolding was in place, it became apparent that there was more concrete repair work to be done than originally anticipated.Cllr Sean Woodward
But as scaffolding went up to complete the work, the contractors realised the bearings supporting the bridge deck are also badly corroded.
Hampshire County Council, which is in charge of the scheme, is examining whether the work on the support bearings can be carried out after the current programme.
If it is agreed, the bridge could remain shut until the end of the year.
Councillor Sean Woodward, who is in charge of transport at the council, said: ‘Although good progress is being made with the bridge, once the scaffolding was in place, it became apparent that there was more concrete repair work to be done than originally anticipated.
‘Every effort will be made to complete the works early, and carrying out additional works now will save more time and money in the long run than having to close the road again at a later date.’
He added: ‘I’d like to thank all the residents and those who travel through this part of Gosport for their patience while these essential works are carried out.
‘I appreciate that some people’s journey times will be longer, but the works will extend the life of the bridge for many years to come and we continue to do all we can to minimise disruption.’
But people living in Alverstoke, which is linked to Gosport town centre by the bridge, are critical of the council saying more investigations should have been carried out before works started.
Jon Browne, who lives down the road from Haslar Bridge, said: ‘It is disappointing that the council didn’t do more investigations on how bad the bridge was corroded.
‘The route being closed for 18 weeks was annoying but we could deal with.
‘Knowing it could be until the end of the year it very frustrating.’
Joy Blake, from Monckton Road, added: ‘It is odd it has taken them so long to realise what work is needed but hopefully it will get completed quickly so it can reopen.’