GRIDLOCK is expected for motorists and businesses in North Herts as roadworks close a main road for three months.
The A505 Cambridge Road in Hitchin – the main route between the town and Letchworth – will close so that Walsworth Bridge can be strengthened.
The area of the road in the vicinity of the bridge will be completely closed from the roundabout with St Michael’s Road and Meadowbank to the entrance to the Millstream pub.
Pedestrian access to businesses will be maintained but diversion signs will direct traffic via the A1(M) or the B197.
John Pope, the manager of the Millstream, said the pub will miss out on passing trade as well as regular customers.
"We’re going to suffer quite seriously because of the closure," he said.
"Our customers aren’t going to want to spend their whole lunch hour sitting in traffic trying to get to us they simply won’t have time come here for lunch.
"We’ll be open for the whole three months but depending on how badly it effects us, I might have to look at the amount of bar staff we have."
The roadworks also impact on students and staff at North Hertfordshire College which has two campuses on Cambridge Road.
Fintan Donohue, the college’s principal and chief executive, said: "Clearly a road closure of this type during the college’s busiest time for students and our commercial restaurant, salons, theatre and car wash centre is highly disruptive.
"However, the rear entrance in St Michael’s Road is open and we hope this will minimise the inconvenience and that our customers will still be able to enjoy all of our services."
The road closure is expected to make life difficult for businesses further away in North Herts town centres too.
Hitchin town centre manager Keith Hoskins said: "Any roadworks that impact on main routes in and out of town will impact on businesses but what can you do?
"We can only hope that it does not take the maximum time, rather a considerably shorter time.
"It will also coincide with the Vaisakhi procession through the town centre on April 16 so for that day it’s going to be doubly gridlocked."
Construction work planned for the bridge includes temporary arch supports, deep excavations and construction of a reinforced concrete saddle over the bridge.
The existing parapets are to be removed and new upgraded parapets installed. Herts Highways expects the closure to run from February 28-May 26.
A spokeswoman for the council said: "We appreciate this will cause disruption but these are essential maintenance works and we will try to keep disruption to a minimum."