Drivers are being reminded of critical works starting on one of Durham City Centre’s bridges next week.

New Elvet Bridge will be fully closed to traffic and pedestrians for up to 14 months from next Monday, 20 July, while essential repairs are carried out to make the bridge structurally sound.

Despite the bridge being closed, Durham and businesses throughout the city, including shops, the indoor and outdoor markets, pubs, restaurants and cafes, are open and ready to welcome shoppers and visitors.

The city’s main car parks are operating as normal, while the park and ride service and public transport are also operating to the latest government guidelines.

Durham County Council is thanking people in advance for their patience and understanding while this essential work in completed.

Although travel into and through the city will be disrupted, especially at peak times, it is hoped that starting the work during the school holidays will lessen the impact of the repairs and help regular commuters adjust to a change in their journeys ahead of the autumn.

Additionally, with more people working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, traffic levels through the city are currently reduced and it’s hoped that will help ease congestion in the short term.

Drivers are asked to plan their journeys in advance to avoid peak travel times, leave additional time for their journeys, and where possible to consider alternative routes and alternative forms of transport, such as public transport or the park and ride services, in line with latest government guidance.

A range of measures have been put in place to help keep traffic flowing, including new restrictions being introduced on Quarryheads Lane, where temporary changes to vehicle use have been put in place.

The restrictions will only allow access for buses, taxis, cycles and authorised vehicles heading north along Quarryheads Lane from the roundabout. There are no restrictions southbound.

A number of suggested diversions, which are hoped will help spread the traffic coming into and out of the city centre, can be viewed on the council’s website www.durham.gov.uk/newelvet. This will also include diversions for local traffic. Meanwhile, a diversion for walkers and cyclists is in place in the vicinity of the bridge.

The webpage also features the latest live traffic conditions from the council’s roadside cameras, with drivers encouraged to use these to help plan their journeys.

Cllr Brian Stephens, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “The bridge carries up to 17,000 vehicles per day in normal times therefore it is absolutely vital that this essential work is carried out now to prevent more extensive and prolonged repairs being required in the future. These repairs are one of a number of improvements necessary in the city to help support traffic flow, both now and in the future. Alongside traffic lights installed on the A690 and improvements made to the Milburngate Bridge, the significant improvements to New Elvet Bridge and the new bus station will bring many benefits to Durham.

“While there has been concern about the repairs causing disruption to the city, we will continue to welcome residents, shoppers and visitors throughout the works. Businesses remain open and we will continue to promote Durham as a place to visit, in line with the latest government guidance.”