A VITAL transport link between the Forest and Monmouthshire will be closed for up to five weeks from mid-October - two months later than originally planned.
The historic Wye Bridge at Monmouth will be closed 24 hours a day during that time to allow for “essential” resurfacing works, with a lengthy diversion towards Ross-on-Wye in place.
The closure is expected to disrupt the journeys of thousands of commuters and parents driving their children to school to and from the Forest and Wye Valley.
However, pedestrians and cyclists who dismount will still be able to cross the bridge during the closure.
Monmouthshire Council said earlier this year that it hoped to carry out the resurfacing over five weeks in the summer to minimise disruption to school travel, but the work was delayed.
The closure will take effect on October 16, with the works expected to be completed by mid-November.
The council has requested that workers operate through the night so that the closure lasts for as short a time as possible.
Additionally, emergency services vehicles will be allowed over the bridge, and the council is working with them and the contractor on a plan.
A statement from the council explained of the works: “The essential work will involve the removal of 10cm of the road surface from the bridge, which was built c.1615 and widened 1878-80.
“While the bridge is without this surface usual vehicular traffic will not be able to cross.
“This is due to the change in weight load on the structure once the old road surface is removed.
“If normal traffic were allowed to cross it would raise a risk of potential structural damage to the historic bridge.”
Cllr. Catrin Maby, Monmouthshire County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Highways, said: “We are working to ensure that the essential resurfacing works of the Wye Bridge are planned to minimise the unavoidable impact on local residents and businesses.
“We are asking the contractors who are appointed to work in shifts 24 hours a day to reduce the time the bridge is closed.
“Sadly as a result of the need to remove so much of the bridge surface the bridge cannot be opened for normal traffic until the work is complete.
“We apologise for the inevitable inconvenience but would like to assure residents and businesses that everything will be done to ensure this project is completed as a priority in good time.
“Access will be maintained for pedestrians and for cyclists who dismount.”
The council has said that no compensation will be available for anyone effected by the closure.
They also say locals may choose to follow other alternative routes than the official diversion to Ross, but are asking people to be aware of the “unnecessary pressure” this could put on the local network of smaller ‘B’ roads.
They are working to establish where such problems may arise and will put out extra signage in these areas.
A Q&A page with information about the works can be found on the Council’s website and information will also be available at www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/wye-bridge-resurfacing/ this page will be updated as the project progresses.
Follow the Council’s account on Facebook and Twitter for updates.