Laira Bridge roadworks are set to end ahead of schedule
TRAFFIC restrictions on Laira Bridge are to be removed by Saturday morning.
Plymouth City Council has confirmed the closures, which have caused weeks of sluggish traffic and misery for local businesses, will be lifted at the end of the week as the main carriageway works are completed.
Work has been under way on Laira Bridge since early September to improve and prolong the life of the structure.
It included re-waterproofing the bridge decking, replacing expansion joints, resurfacing the road and installing new lighting columns.
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A council spokesman said the work programme has been delivered "well within schedule" and Plymouth Transport and Highways would be re-opening all lanes to traffic early on Saturday morning.
The spokesman said: "Some minor signage work will be undertaken next week but no traffic restrictions will be necessary for this."
At the same time as the Laira Bridge improvements, Plymouth Transport and Highways have also been carrying out improvement works at the junction of Finnigan Road and Laira Bridge Road.
In August the council said the work was needed as the junction suffered from queuing traffic, particularly at peak times, there were no pedestrian signals and only narrow refuge islands.
The council said carrying out the bridge and junction work simultaneously "helped minimise future disruption to the city's road network."
The spokesman said: "The junction now has upgraded pedestrian and cyclist facilities, and the removal of the right hand turn from Laira Bridge Road into Finnigan Road means traffic flow over Laira Bridge should greatly improve.
"These junction improvements are the second phase of the Eastern Corridor programme. The aim of the work is to improve traffic flow, reduce congestion and create new pedestrian and cycle facilities. Funding for the £400,000 project was provided by the Department for Transport's Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) and Plymouth City Council's capital budget.
Traders have bitterly complained about the works, claiming their businesses were being wrecked by the disruption.
They also questioned why the work was not extended through the night and weekends to shorten the length of the project, which was scheduled to end around mid-November.
Ray Griffin, who runs The Morley Arms in Billacombe Road with his partner and two children, was one of the worst hit. He said the family business had "barely recovered" from the first round of works around Gdynia Way.
In mid-September the 66-year-old said the works was having a "devastating effect on business" and had caused "a tremendous loss of trade" to his and other businesses.
In a letter to The Herald, Cllr Mark Coker, cabinet member for transport, insisted the works were being completed "in the fastest time possible".
He added: "The expert project managers employed to plan such works have pushed the schedule to the limits to ensure they are completed for the busy Christmas shopping period."
He said the council was "genuinely sorry" for the inconvenience suffered but the work had to be done "if we wanted to continue to have a usable bridge".
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