MOTORISTS face months of disruption with a busy road set to close for 19 weeks from Wednesday.

Network Rail will begin work on February 13 to replace the ageing railway bridge on Huntworth Lane which is in desperate need of repairs.

However installing a new bridge means residents in Moorland, Burrowbridge and Fordgate face a 26 mile round trip diversion to travel to Bridgwater for the duration of the works.

There have been ongoing meetings with North Petherton Town Council and residents have packed into Moorland Village Hall to have their say.

Cllr Julian Taylor, who has been campaigning to have this work done for almost two decades, says while the work is necessary, Network Rail should have consulted earlier about their plans.

"We have won some concessions - all children will get free transport funded by Network Rail for the duration of the works, and school transport and emergency services will be given a code to use a gated route through Petherton Park," Cllr Taylor said.

"Still many in the village believe this work could be carried out quicker if Network Rail were willing to pay to have the main railway line shut down for more hours."

Network Rail say the work to repair the bridge has been deemed 'safety critical', and if the work is not carried out, it could mean the weight restriction would be reduced, or could mean the bridge would be closed completely.

Network Rail's project manager for the scheme Scott Pillinger said: “This is a taxpayer-funded scheme and we all want it finished as quickly and as safely as possible.

Network Rail will work with Wessex Water and BT during the first seven weeks of the closure, as well as clearing vegetation vegetation so that the bridge can be taken down.

The new bridge will be put in place during a 52 hour track possession from March 16-18, with 13 weeks of works required after the bridge deck is put in place.

Network Rail said the money for the project had to spent within a certain timeframe, and if the scheme were deferred the funding would be lost.