Closure of London Road bridge in Derby will lead to a year of disruption for drivers in Derby city centre
A VITAL road bridge into Derby city centre that is used by thousands of vehicles every day will close for nearly a year while it is replaced.
The bridge in London Road will be shut between Bateman Street and the entrance to the Rail Technical Centre from September until August next year.
The go-ahead for the work was confirmed by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin. It comes after the Government pledged to stump up £4.4 million to help Derby City Council meet the scheme's costs of almost £7 million.
Chancellor George Osborne released the money as part of a nationwide attempt to kick-start the economy by undertaking a huge programme of infrastructure development.
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Due to its deteriorating condition, the current bridge – which runs over the Birmingham to Derby railway line – has a restriction, reducing the permitted weight of any vehicle travelling over it.
Mr McLoughlin said the replacement bridge would comply with national weight carrying standards to ensure all traffic could use it.
He said: "This scheme will remove the weight restrictions imposed on traffic using this bridge.
"If not sorted, the situation will simply get worse and eventually lead to closure of this important radial route into Derby."
He added the completed project would "ensure continued and improved access to the city centre and remove limits to the amount of development that could take place in the area".
A diversion will be put in place, taking traffic around Pride Parkway.
During the closure, a temporary footbridge will be provided to maintain access along London Road for pedestrians and cyclists.
A spokesman for Derby City Council said through-traffic would be diverted along the inner ring road and through Pride Park to the Ascot Drive roundabout.
She said: "London Road is one of the key radial routes between the inner and outer ring roads, and the closure of such a key route will inevitably lead to additional traffic on surrounding roads.
"The city council believes that the use of the planned diversion routes will keep the impact during the closure to a minimum."
Ray Wheatley, director of GB Willbond Ltd bathroom centre in London Road, said it would have a major impact.
He said: "Our trade will be hit massively. I knew this was coming but I didn't realise it would happen this quickly. If they divert traffic through Pride Park it will be an even bigger nightmare during peak periods than it is already."