Bedford faces a “week of chaos” next week, when engnieers start work on replacing gas mains along the High Street.
The work, which will mean both lanes are closed to traffic, will take place from 6am on Monday for FIVE days.
And there will then be two-and-a-half weeks from July 31 to August 18 when there will be single-lane closures for further work.
The work is being carried out by maintenance firm Cadent. One shopowner, who asked not to be named, said: “I know that they have tried to minimsie disruption, but this is still going to play merry hell with us.
“It is the height of summer, and for a full week we will not be able to get deliveries.
“I feel sorry for anyone who normally drives through the High Street, they face a week of hell.
“And the irony is that Bedford would actually benefit from pedestrianising the High Street – apparently they can’t do that because it’s an A-road, yet we can have it closed for a week when businesses depend upon it.”
A spokesman for Cadent said that the work had been designed to minimise disruption, and would be completed two days earlier than first planned to avoid affecting the Love Bedford Day in the town centre on July 23.
Cadent authorising engineer Dilbir Chana said: “We always try to be as flexible as possible with our work and do all we can to ensure it does not impact major local events such as the Love Bedford event.
“We’ve also scheduled as much of the work as we can for the school summer holiday period when roads are generally quieter to reduce any congestion our work may cause.”
He added: “Our essential work will help make sure people in Bedford keep on enjoying safe and reliable gas supplies for cooking and heating in the future.
“We’ve carefully planned the project in close discussion with the local authorities to make sure we have as little impact as possible.”
Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “These are essential gas works carried out by Cadent Gas and sadly road closures are therefore unavoidable. Whilst the gas company has carried out publicity, the council is also displaying notices at key locations around the town so that everybody is aware when the work will take place and to minimise disruption.”