A decision to close a listed bridge in Monmouthshire for up to five weeks as been met with criticism as it is set to cause disruption for drivers and businesses.
The 17th century Wye bridge in Monmouth will be closed to vehicular access for 24 hours a day for major resurfacing work to go ahead, creating a 30 mile diversion in the town.
The closure of the Grade-II listed bridge is due to start on 16 October. Pedestrian access will be maintained and cyclists who dismount can also cross.
However, drivers face an official diversion of up to 30 miles via Ross-on-Wye while 10cm of road surface on the bridge is removed.
The town's MP, David TC Davies, has said that the decision must be reconsidered to avoid “damaging” businesses and “cutting off” the local community in Wyesham.
Speaking to ITV Wales, he said: "This is going to be absolutely devastating for businesses in Monmouthshire, particularly those based on the Wyesham side."
He continued: "Cars wanting to go backward and forwards across Monmouth are going to have to do a 30-mile diversion [...] It's just going to be ridiculous to be honest."
While some business owners say they recognise the necessity of the work, they fear the impact the closure of the bridge will have on trade in the town.
Catherine Elsmore, owner of the Salt & Pepper stores in Monmouth, said: “Will people park on the other side of the river and walk into town? Will they do the extra drive and still come here?
"From a business perspective I imagine we will lose a lot of trade at a particularly important time for retail. But we recognise that the bridge needs work. The surface is horrendous. It’s a shame it couldn’t have been done in the summer holidays.”
Samantha Porter of Stephens Bookshop in Monmouth added: "I am concerned about the impact on business.
"For people in Wyesham in particular it’ll be a nightmare. They’re asking people to get here via Whitchurch near Ross-on-Wye.
"People won’t do that. It’ll stop people from coming shopping in Monmouth during that period."
Sam Small, of Mandarin Stone tiles and flooring company, has bases on both sides of the bridge at Wonastow Road and Hadnock Road. He says the company's drivers travel over the bridge 12 times a day.
"I don’t think any business in Monmouth will be affected by this more than us," he said. "Although frustrating, if it needs to be done, then we’re realistic about it. The vehicles doing that trip will have to make a 30-mile diversion, which, of course, adversely affects efficiency.
Sam says the company is going to procure larger vehicles in order to make fewer trips, but said that this was "not ideal."
He continued: "We employ 140 people living on either side of the bridge, and we’re looking to redistribute our workforce so they can work on the side where they live.
"That’s easier said than done because it’s going to mean people working in departments they might be new to but we remain pragmatic about the situation."A Monmouthshire County Council spokesperson said: “We acknowledge the disruption the bridge closure will cause and are working to minimise that disruption where possible.
"However, it is essential that these works proceed, and unfortunately, the works require the full closure of the bridge. Pedestrian access will be retained, and cyclists can dismount and push their bikes through.”
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