Laira Bridge 'office hours' roadworks will not speed up despite pleas
HIGHWAYS bosses insist they will not speed up roadworks at Laira Bridge despite crippled businesses pleading for action to complete the project as soon as possible.
Work at the site generally only takes place from Monday to Friday during daylight hours.
Traders affected by the resulting jams say their businesses are being wrecked and have voiced anger that the work is not normally extended through the night and weekends to shorten the length of the project.
However, last night - hours after being questioned on the issue by The Herald - the council's roads partnership announced that some resurfacing work would be done tonight as a one off.
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They defended the decision to focus the works during the day since they started in September, arguing 24-hour working would not speed up the project.
A spokeswoman for Plymouth Transport and Highways, the partnership between the council and private company Amey, said they could not "justify" spending thousands in public money extending working hours.
She said: "There are a number of reasons why a 24-hour-a-day works programme could not be scheduled.
"The logistics of this project are complex and involve specialist machinery and contractors that require firm booking slots.
"We also need to build in contingency for unforeseen issues such as poor weather, when many vital tasks such as waterproofing cannot go ahead, or structural problems that may arise.
"Working a daytime shift pattern over five days means evenings and weekends are available for catch-up works, between the fixed slots for our specialist contractors.
"With unknowns such as the weather and condition of the bridge once the deck was exposed, a seven-day work pattern would not guarantee earlier completion."
But business people have called for steps to complete the work which is designed to improve traffic flow.
James Hockin, operations director at Faraday Mill, said: "It's had a massive effect on business here. I feel the council really haven't put enough effort into getting it done as soon as possible.
"It seems they are doing it to save money by not working through the nights. It's down tools at 4pm on Fridays and I don't see them again until Monday morning – I think this could be done three times as quick."
Despite the problems, Mr Hockin said: "It is negative for us now but the mid to long term prospects are good."
Carl Payne, partner at the Pet Project store at Faraday Mill, added: "We've had a 90 percent drop in sales; it's ridiculous. On Tuesday we took just £5 whereas before we were taking £500."
Ray Griffin, who runs the Morley Arms in Billacombe Road, said: "It's been very, very depressing for everybody in Plymstock."
The works are on schedule for completion in mid-November.
The route will be closed to inbound traffic tonight between 9pm and 6am, with signposted diversions taking motorists via Haye Road, Cot Hill and Embankment Road.
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