Businesses are bracing themselves for even more hardship as the closure of Springfield Road in Grantham is extended.
The road has been closed since the beginning of November while Network Rail carries out repairs to the rail bridge, which carries the main East Coast line.
The bridge was hit by a skip lorry in August causing a crack to appear in the brickwork. The company had said work on the bridge would be finished by November 29, but this has now been extended to December 12.
Businesses in Springfield Road say the road closure is costing them money.
Tracey Abbott works at East Midlands Sound and Lighting, in the Old Malthouse business park.
He said the area was a “ghost town,” adding: “Nobody is coming in. We are relying solely on the internet. But then the drivers are not taking out our parcels until the following day. They are doing their best to get to us but get stuck in the traffic and run out of time. We are pretty damned miffed about it.”
Mr Abbott said the business works with schools across the area which could mean having to travel to up to four sites in one day, but the traffic situation in the town makes it almost impossible.
Shaun Ridlington, of Manor Service Centre, also in the The Old Malthouse, said the business was struggling since the road was closed.
Mr Ridlington said: “We are substantially quiet. It has turned this side of town into a ghost town. You have to think twice about every journey and I think a lot of people being put off coming here, especially the elderly, because they do not want to be sitting in traffic.
“I think it’s bad planning. This is the run-up to Christmas and people are dreading it. It’s driving people away from the town because it is so easy for people to get on to the A1 and go to places like Newark. It’s a problem for everyone in Springfield Road. We are suffering.”
Allison Wells, of Wellies fish and chip shop on Springfield Road, said their sales were down by 20 per cent because of the road closure.
Mrs Wells, who runs the business with her husband David, said they had planned to do special road re-opening deals and would continue with those in December even though it looked as though the road would not be open until the middle of the month.
Mrs Wells said the business was hit particularly at lunchtimes. She said: “Please let this be the end of it because this must be the worst road in Grantham for roadworks with KFC and London Road.”
A resident who lives near the bridge said that the work looked nowhere near being finished. He said workers had dug down into the road about four feet and a lot of brickwork had been removed revealing the steelwork.
He has received a response from Network Rail after making inquiries and was told that as well as the extended closure of the road there would be a further two 12 hour closures on January 6 and 12 to install the collision protection beams.
A Network Rail spokesman said: “Unfortunately, our work to install collision protection beams at the railway bridge on Springfield Road has been delayed due to services under the road, which were difficult to locate. We need to know where services are while carrying out this work. We have agreed with the county council that the road closure can be extended to December 12 for constructing the new supports. The beams will then be lifted in place during night closures at dates still to be finalised. We are sorry for any delays this causes drivers in Grantham.
“We’re doing the work as the bridge has been struck numerous times in the past as a result of driver error, which has caused significant delays to train services and often road users. The beams will help reduce the disruption to rail passengers and road users which are often a result of these types of bridge strikes.
“In the future these beams will take the brunt of any strike, which will help us to open the railway line and road more quickly and efficiently.”
In the past two years the bridge has been struck 15 times, resulting in severe delays for train passengers and added cost to Network Rail.