Highways engineers have defended their handling of a major Lynn road repair project, as the first of a series of weekend closures brought fresh chaos to nearby routes.
Police described traffic conditions as “dreadful” on Saturday evening, as drivers battled the queues caused by the closure of the A47 at the Saddlebow interchange.
That followed criticism of Highways England over a perceived lack of progress on the project after the bridges themselves were first closed last month.
But Aran Nugent, the body’s capital delivery team leader, insisted the measures were necessary because of the scale of the work being undertaken.
The project, which is expected to cost more than £3 million, is being completed to repair damage caused to the bridges when they were struck by an oversized vehicle five years ago, which Mr Nugent said had made them unsafe.
He added: “We put measures in place to make them safe until we could do a proper repair.
“It’s a really tricky job to do. It’s really complicated and needs a lot of preparation work.”
The weekend closure was the first of three on the A47 that have been arranged to enable engineers to remove damaged steel beams from the bridges and cut them up before removing them from the site.
Similar closures are also due to take place over the next two weekends, from 8pm on Friday to 6am on Monday.
But the closure led to major hold-ups for motorists trying to make their way into and around the town during the weekend.
Lynn police took to Twitter on Saturday evening to urge drivers to allow extra time for their journeys with the comment: “Traffic in King’s Lynn at the moment is dreadful.”
Warning signs alerting drivers to the work, and the prospect of delays, are also being displayed on the A17 as far afield as Long Sutton, with a suggested alternative route directed via the A1101, A1122 and A10.
The project is expected to be completed in the spring.