DRIVERS are being warned to expect major disruption as work to upgrade gas pipes under a busy city street begins later this week.
The roadworks, on Willowbrae Road between the entrance to the Lady Nairne hotel and the junction with Ulster Crescent, are set to begin this Friday and will last for five weeks.
Community figures urged drivers to “avoid the area where possible” and warned the upheaval could impact negatively on local businesses.
The works are being carried out by gas distribution company SGN and form part of an ongoing mains replacement programme.
As part of the scheme, SGN is replacing existing metal gas mains and services with modern polyethylene pipe, which lasts for upwards of 80 years.
Over the five-week period, a section of the city-bound lane on Willowbrae Road will be closed, with traffic diverted into the southbound side of the road.
Southbound traffic will not be able to turn right into the Tesco garage or the Lady Nairne hotel during this time, but northbound traffic can turn left into both. Cars leaving the garage or hotel will only be able to turn left.
SGN also warned there will be no access to Northfield Broadway from Willowbrae Road for northbound traffic travelling towards the city, while the junction of Willowbrae Road with Paisley Drive will be closed.
Councillor Alex Lunn, who represents the area, admitted there had been a “general worry” at local meetings about the impact of the works.
He said: “It’s a very, very busy road. But thankfully this is happening during the summer when there’s less traffic on the roads – that’s one relief. It would be a lot worse if this was happening when the schools were on.
“Five weeks is definitely far from ideal and I think people should try to avoid the area where possible.
“Road work repairs are never great for small businesses but the works are obviously essential.”
Stephen Dickson, team manager at SGN, said: “We are sorry about any inconvenience our work causes and would like to assure everyone that we will do everything we can to minimise disruption and complete our work as quickly as possible.
“We would like to thank road users for their patience while we carry out our essential work.”