TRADERS fear major plans to replace Cosham’s Northern Bridge will bring five months of traffic chaos.
Portsmouth City Council has released proposals to replace the bridge, and initial work is due to start this month.
The authority says the work desperately needs carrying out over fears of concrete crumbling onto the train line below.
But the plans will mean the bridge will be closed to general traffic for five months from January while the main part of the work takes place.
Only public transport – including buses and taxis – the emergency services, service traffic, such as bin lorries, and pedestrians will be allowed to use the road during the second phase.
Graham Baggaley, bridge project manager, confirmed there will be one-hour free on-street parking in the high street during this phase of work – but traders fear business will still be affected when the work starts.
Graham Hales, who runs Locks newsagents in Cosham, said: ‘The bridge has got to be done but I can foresee problems with traffic.
‘Hopefully the free hour’s parking will give people an incentive to come into Cosham but it’s a question of “time will tell”.’
Jamie Brennan, of Cosham Barbers, said: ‘It’s going to affect us quite badly.
‘Our shop is right by the train station and if people are going to be queued up they are not going to be bothered to come round our way.
‘We will miss a lot of passing trade.’
Ron Emery, of flower shop Emery’s of Cosham, said: ‘Free parking is neither here nor there.
‘If it wasn’t for the top of the high street and fast food restaurants it would be a ghost town.’
The authority is in the final stages of appointing a contractor and awaiting government funding to get the green light to start the work.
The first stage of work will involve placing existing phone and internet lines that run through the bridge onto a separate temporary gantry, and modifications to public pavements.
General traffic travelling to Cosham will be diverted from the Northern Road roundabout to Southampton Road during the second phase of work and diversion signs will be placed as far afield as Bedhampton and Waterlooville.
The work is expected to last until October next year and the new bridge will have two lanes for traffic, a bus lane, a cycle lane and extended footways.
Mr Baggaley said: ‘I do realise it will cause disruption the area but most major projects do.
‘What we are hoping is that we cause the least inconvenience possible.’
Council to hold more meetings over plans
PORTSMOUTH City Council says it is going to consult people in Cosham over the planned work.
Newsletters will be sent out to residents, further question and answer meetings will be held, and a dedicated project phone number will be launched.
Project manager Graham Baggaley told Cosham Rotary Club that replacing the bridge is the cheapest option.
He said: ‘Anything that falls off poses significant risk to the trains below and people on them.
‘Overall the impact assessment says replacing the bridge saves us more money in the long run.
‘Although it costs a significant amount of money, a patch-up programme is going to end up costing us more money.
‘The reason for that is because when you go onto railway you have to
take possession of line, you can spend £850,000 in one weekend to do work on the bridge.’
For more information, visit portsmouth.gov.uk or e-mail email@example.com.