TRADERS and drivers are bracing themselves for traffic chaos in Bridgwater with two major town centre road schemes set to cause disruption at the same time.

Work has started on a £370,000 upgrade of the 150-year-old Bridgwater Bridge after sections of the landmark structure were corroded by rising waters from the River Parrett.

There are traffic restrictions on the bridge with lanes and pavements due to be coned off in various stages while the work, which is expected to last until at least October, is completed.

While this major overhaul continues, work lasting up to 20 weeks is due to start in the next few weeks on The Clink traffic junction.

The work will update pedestrian and cycle facilities, and improve the traffic flow through the area. 

Bridgwater Chamber of Commerce chairman Stephen Leahy said: “With two lots of work going on at the same time it’s a double whammy with the disruption it will cause.

“Bridgwater traders are bracing themselves for years of traffic problems, however, as from the end of this year there’s also the work associated with Hinkley Point, so this is just the start. 

“I would make the point that there was no real notification of the work starting on the bridge and many traders in Eastover were not given any warning. In fact the first time I knew about it was when I drove up there.”

The county council, which is responsible for both Bridgwater schemes, says there will be hold ups at some point while the work is carried out but could not predict how bad they would be. They say the existing lights at The Clink will be used for as long as possible but temporary lights will be needed “on occasions”.

Work on the bridge is being timed so it can be finished ready for the famous Bridgwater Carnival at the beginning of November. 

At the end of the year more road misery is expected while road schemes are started to serve the huge Hinkley Point site which will include improvements to the Bath Road junction in Bridgwater.

EDF Energy, which is hoping to build the proposed Hinkley Point C power station, said the county council was due to schedule the programme of works for Hinkley and it had no start date as yet.