A bridge closure in Biggleswade could cause chaos for up to four months while repair works take place.
The bridge at the north end of the High Street will close on Christmas Eve later this year and not re-open until Easter 2016.
The announcement by Central Beds Council sparked a furious response from Biggleswade Town Councillors at a meeting on Tuesday evening.
Biggleswade Mayor Hazel Ramsay said: “We cannot believe this decision has been made. All the councillors are appalled it is going to happen.
“We are extremely upset that it is going to take so long, it will be bad for trade in the town and we have concerns about alternative routes as well.
“It is the main road into town, I don’t know how they are going to divert all that traffic and ambulances and the fire service use the route as well.”
However, Central Beds Council insisted the repairs need to be carried out.
A spokesperson said: “We have been regularly inspecting Stratton Street Railway Bridge through our inspection programme and our inspection has shown that the bridge requires a repair.
“We’ll be working with local businesses, residents and commuters to minimise disruption and provide a short diversionary route. Residents will be able to keep up to date with works via our dedicated webpage www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/stratton.”
The bridge will be closed from midnight on Christmas Eve until December 27. During January and February 2016 further repairs to the bridge will take place. In March the new bridge will be lifted into place. In April construction of the bridge deck will take place.
There will therefore be an alternative, albeit longer, route from December 2015 to April 2016.
In a statement on the Central Bedfordshire website the reasons for the repair works are outlined.
The statement said: “If the railway bridge continues to be treated with short-term solutions, the ultimate capacity of the bridge will be affected either by causing a serious accident or requiring work to take place on the carriageway to impose weight or width restrictions.
“This would affect traffic movements through and around Biggleswade, which could affect the economic prosperity of the town.
“It has been advised that the bridge will be unsuitable for continued use should the bridge not be repaired amid report of concrete falling onto the track.”
What do you think about the bridge being closed for four months? Leave your comments at www.biggleswadetoday.co.uk