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Traffic struggles as Evesham's Abbey Bridge closes
TALK of tailbacks and traffic jams was rife in Evesham as the town’s Abbey Bridge closed for ten weeks.
The road across the bridge is one of the main routes into Evesham town centre but it closed at 5am this morning as part of a programme of essential work to replace the 85-year-old structure.
Concerns had been raised in the run-up to the closure about the impact it would have on the town and its traders.
Many people have also criticised the alternative route across the town as decided by Worcestershire County Council, which involves two way traffic on Mill Street from its junction with Oat Street, with the closure of Mill Bank at its junction with Common Road, and on the first day of the closure many of their concerns were realised.
Cars queued up Port Street stretching far up Elm Road and Broadway Road as the new system struggled to cope with rush hour traffic entering the town.
One couple who have travelled into Evesham along the Broadway Road from Wickhamford queued more than ten minutes to get into Lidl.
Beryl Buxcey said: "It's been awful. We are only going to Lidl and then the town afterwards. We won't come in again while the bridge is closed."
Heather Gibbins, from Hampton, walks to Holland and Barratt where she works.
She said: “The new footbridge and getting across the roads has added about ten minutes onto my journey. You feel like you are taking your life into your hands crossing the roads.
“It’s OK for me because I walk, although I wouldn’t say I am happy about it all. We have quite a few customers in the shop and a lot of elderly people I know have saidthey are not going to come in because they cannot drive in.”
In Port Street Vince Bivorna, owner of Vince’s Salon, said he had watched people queueing outside his shop all morning.
“It has been miserable,” he said. “It is a lot of traffic. I am concerned it will be like this all the way through until January. People won’t come down this way now they know there is a lot of traffic. The smaller businesses don’t have a cat in hell’s chance.”
Chloe Jones, who was working at the Regal on Port Street, added: “I live near Davies Road. It took me 25 minutes to drive here this morning. It usually takes about three minutes.
"The traffic was half way up Broadway Road. There’s been cars going all morning. It has been non stop.”
Shoppers on foot also noticed the traffic and had began to worry.
Doreen Timms, of Cowl Street, said: “It was OK today because I was walking but how will we get out in the car, it will be difficult to get out the road.”
But while Port Street suffered the normally busy crossroads at the junction of the closure was unusually quiet.
Marcus Burrows, a technician and temporary manager at PJ Nicholls Ltd on Cheltenham Road, said the roads outside the car dealership and garage had been very busy until today.
“We offer a lot of collect and delivery and it has affected that because it takes a lot longer now,” he said. “This morning is quiet outside here but it was very busy coming down Port Street. It has totally changed.
“I wouldn’t say it has affected our business and it has been nice to see it all going on. We have a birds eye view here.”
Mum, Angela Woodcock, who lives near Cheltenham Road, walked her son to Swan Lane First School.
She said: “I generally take my boy to school in the car in the morning. My son is usually reluctant to walk in the mornings but he doesn't mind on the way home in the afternoon.
"I am surprised by how quiet it is but I am going to encourage him to walk. It's not evident yet how it's going to be at its worst.”
Caroline Sutton, who works at South Worcestershire College and lives in town, said she always walks to work.
“I think hopefully it will make people walk more and stop jumping in their cars,” she said.
And other Evesham residents and traders were also looking on the brightside.
Sue Treanor, from Spiritus in Evesham High Street, said: “While the bridge is closed we are happy to deliver locally, any goods from the shop. We also do readings in people’s homes. We are about being proactive rather than negative. It’s happening we have just got to get on with it.”
At KT’s Catering, Tracey Titley, co-owner, echoed her neighbours sentiments. “We need to stay positive and say we are still going to be here with special offers for people in the town.”
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