A DEVASTATING impact on trade and traffic chaos are feared as a major road looks set to be closed for almost three months.
Havant Borough Council plans to close North Street, in Emsworth, at the railway bridge for 10 weeks. The work to rebuild a collapsed wall is due to start on September 14.
The road is a busy route for drivers travelling north to south and community leaders fear it will lead to huge traffic congestion at rush hour.
Traffic would be forced to go via Warblington – where there is a level crossing – or via rural roads through Westbourne and Southbourne.
Dusty Lucas, landlord of The Railway Inn in North Street, has started a petition and already has more than 200 signatures. He said: “Pubs are struggling as it is. I would lose my passing trade. No-one goes up a dead-end street.”
Giles Babb, chairman of Emsworth Business Association, said: “It will have a dramatic effect on business. Not only Christmas, it will affect people who live south of the bridge who want to get to St James school.
“It’s a decision that needs to be looked at again. If it was shut for a week, people would say that’s a fair amount of time. But being shut for 10 weeks is critical.”
He added: “Dusty has had a surveyor to look at it and he says the road does not need to be shut.”
A statement from the council said: “During the construction the section of road in front of the wall will be closed to vehicle traffic under the construction and design management regulations legislation for the safety of the contractors on site. However, a footpath will be created which will allow access via this route, but this will need to be closed at certain stages of construction for safety reasons.
“This scheme involves a number of facilities and therefore may take longer than we would like to complete.”
A public meeting has been arranged for 6pm at Emsworth Community Centre on August 19 to discuss the closure.
A planning application regarding re-building the wall will be heard on August 13 from 5pm at The Plaza in Havant.
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