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24 June 2013, 06:05
Drivers can now use a major route for the north of Portsmouth again, around a month earlier than expected.
Portsmouth City Council has announced the replacement of Northern Road bridge has progressed ahead of schedule.
Although motorists will be able to use the road again, the bridge will still be a construction site. Traffic will be using narrow lanes with speeds restricted to 20mph while the western side of the bridge is demolished and replaced.
Drivers are still being advised to expect delays and avoid the area if possible.
Cyclists will also be able to use the bridge once more. Due to the restricted space they are being asked to take a central position in their lane while vehicles are not permitted to overtake cyclists on the bridge and should take extra care when near them.
Portsmouth City Council's project manager, Ashley Chaplin, said: "We're very pleased the bridge will be opening early but this project is still a long way from being finished.
"The period when the bridge was closed to general traffic was always going to cause the most disruption for the local community, and everyone involved has worked extremely hard to ensure it re-opened as soon as possible.
"We are very grateful to residents and motorists for their patience during the work and hope they will continue to bear with us for the duration of the project. There will continue to be disruption, but everyone seems to appreciate it is for essential work."
Since mid-February access to the bridge has only been allowed to a limited number of public service vehicles, including buses, taxis and emergency services, which use the single narrow lane left in place.
Other traffic is being diverted along Western Road and Southampton Road, and, while Cosham and the surrounding areas have experienced some extra congestion, the council say the city's road network has coped as well as can be expected during the closure.
Originally the closure was scheduled to last 20 weeks but the good progress being made has resulted in it re-opening around a month earlier than expected.
Work began in September following the announcement of £11m of funding from the Department for Transport to go with £1.5m of council money.
This is just part of £1billion expected to be invested in the city through a host of projects including the regeneration of Tipner, the city centre shopping area and Southsea seafront.