A Wiltshire resident has described Network Rail’s work to replace a road bridge as a “Greek tragedy” because of the length of time it is taking and the traffic problems it is causing.

Annabelle Sanderson made the surprising comparison in a strongly-worded email to the company’s chief executive Andrew Haines over the works in Bradford on Avon.

Work on the St Margaret’s Street bridge began last September and was due for completion in April. But the firm says it will not be completed until December.

During the work, the street has been closed to traffic, alongside a partial closure of St Margaret’s Place public right of way.

The closure has compounded existing traffic delays and congestion as drivers cannot turn left into St Margaret’s Street to access Trowbridge Road.

Wiltshire Times: Work on the Bradford on Avon road over rail bridge in St Margaret's Street is taking a lot longer than forecast. Photo: Trevor Porter 69623Work on the Bradford on Avon road over rail bridge in St Margaret's Street is taking a lot longer than forecast. Photo: Trevor Porter 69623 (Image: Trevor Porter)

Ms Sanderson, 41, from Bradford on Avon, said: “I don’t know what the hell they think they are doing. It is just disgusting how long it is taking.

“I noticed today that the railway bridge in Bradford on Avon is now not due for completion until December, some seven months after this supposed six-month project was due to be completed.

“I noticed this whilst stuck in gridlocked traffic following an accident on one of the only functioning roads in the town made driving anywhere impossible.

“Whilst I cannot hold you responsible for poor driving, I can ask why this bridge repair is turning into something from a Greek tragedy and, specifically, how you are going to apologise to the residents for this constant inconvenience you are causing.

“Gridlock is becoming frequent and it impacts our daily lives and specifically damages local businesses.”

Ms Sanderson added: “Bradford on Avon's road system is not designed for heavy traffic as it is. Closing off half of the roads in and out of the town should mean that getting the work done on time was a priority. It feels like it is at the bottom of the list. 

“Businesses today lost custom - as they did two weeks ago when the roads were at a standstill. This is compounded by the fact there is now another road closed at Staverton because of Network Rail bridge repairs pushing more traffic through the town. 

“We might only be a small town but we have a right to be treated with respect by Network Rail.

“Please can you explain how you are going to expedite these works to lessen the negative externalities of these repairs and what addresses will be paid to the local residents and businesses who have been negatively impacted?”

Network Rail said several “technical challenges” have unfortunately necessitated a longer closure.

Mike Contopoulos, Network Rail’s project director for buildings and civils, said: “A number of issues, including adverse weather, difficulties in diverting the utilities and challenges with the concrete pour, have meant that this project has had to be extended, which we understand will be frustrating to local residents.

“In Bradford on Avon, we are working with our contractors to ensure that the remainder of the work is carried out as quickly and as safely as possible and will keep the local community updated as this project progresses.

“I’d like to thank residents for their ongoing patience and once again apologise for the delays to this project.”

The next phase of the work is the installation of the steel girders for the bridge which will involve using a crane on the Junction Road side of the site.

Following the installation, engineers will construct the bridge deck throughout September, with the final stage to reconnect the original utility pipes taking place from October to mid-November.