Traders, residents and motorists in Lewes are set to face more months of disruption as the re-opening of Station Street has been delayed.
The busy road outside Lewes train station has been closed for bridge refurbishment work since February 22, 2015, causing much disruption to local businesses, visitors and traffic in the area.
However, despite the work initially being scheduled to finish at the end of July, it has since been extended until September 30, meaning the road will continue to be closed for at least another two months.
The news has not been welcomed by the Lewes public, especially those working for the town’s taxi firms, who admit the closure has caused difficulty for drivers and customers wishing to access Lewes station or surrounding roads.
GM Taxis is based on Station Street, opposite the train station. Spokesman Stuart Small said: “The road closure has made a tremendous difference to us - it has made our job very difficult. Our drivers are doing what that can to make the best of it, but we hope it’s going to be over very soon.”
Paul Davsun, from County Cars, Lewes, said: “We’ve sort of got used to it now but it does cause problems. Our biggest problem is people parking along Southover Road, which causes awful jams in rush hour. The roads are being damaged along by the Grange. People don’t know where they are and have to ask the way round the roadworks.”
The staff at Anne of Cleves House, on Southover High Street, also mentioned visitors getting lost as one of the main problems caused by the road closure. A spokesperson said: “We have seen a drop in visitor numbers but it’s hard to say whether that is because of the road works.
“One of the main problems though, is the public not being able to find their way. The diversion signs are not always clear and Sat Navs don’t always register the road closure.”
Lewes District Councillor Vic Ient expressed many concerns about the roadworks, particularly about the effect it would have should there be any further delays.
He said: “If I am honest, it’s a really poorly run project. Lewes people have been very patient so far but their patience will be exhausted if it goes on much longer.
“There are big problems for people living along the diversion routes in Garden Street and particularly Southover High Street, directly past Western Road school. Network Rail should attempt to finish by the time the schools go back.
“Delivery men are having huge problems and there are fears the work could be delayed into November, when Lewes Bonfire is taking place.”
A spokesperson for Network Rail said: “We appreciate the restrictions have caused some disruption to local road users and we would like to thank those affected for their understanding during the work.
“Network Rail is investing £1.5 million in making essential improvements to the railway bridge at Lewes. The work included vital repairs to the brickwork and metal spans of the bridge, and resurfacing the road.
“Sadly, due to unforeseen structural issues, the repair work has taken longer than expected.
“We are currently assessing how best to rectify these issues and examining the impact it will have on the project.”
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