VILLAGERS in Abbotsbury and communities along the coast road celebrated as a major water works scheme was finished a month ahead of schedule.

The Weymouth to Bridport coast road, which has been closed at Abbotsbury since Monday, January 6, reopened last Friday.

The B3157 road had been closed to through traffic with a full diversion put in place via the A35 road to Dorchester. Businesses remained open while work was carried out by Wessex Water in West Street, Market Street and Rodden Row.

Sean Dunne, contracts manager for Wessex Water, said: “We have basically relayed all the mains through Abbotsbury, which has equated to about 1,200 metres of length and we allowed 12 weeks to do the job.

“Due to the efforts of the team, design and construction, we have delivered that in eight weeks.”

Mr Dunne added: “That’s a credit to the lads working late nights and weekends to get it done because of the sensitivity of the village.”

Stephen Bellenie, owner of The Bellenie’s Bakehouse, congratulated the crew by baking a special cake and offering them a free breakfast.

He said: “It is just a thanks to Wessex Water and all their crew for a job well done before schedule.

“They have been here six days a week in all weathers, never grumbling, just getting on with the job.”

Work was originally scheduled to finish on March 29. Wessex Water provided a shuttle bus service to ensure residents remained connected to the village.

Michaela Cordes, co-manager of Chapel Lane Stores, said the works had a big effect on business. “People couldn’t come through. We as a village shop aren’t just for the villagers, we are also for the foreigners and especially on the bank holiday, they didn’t come.

“But I have to say it was the best time to do it and it needed to be done.

“I’m really looking forward to next week as business is back to normal again.”

John Houston, general manager for Abbotsbury Tourism, said he was grateful for the speed of the work.

He said: “To get this road finished is absolutely fantastic and we are very grateful to them for doing what was a very necessary job.”

Arthur Cartlidge, 77, who has lived in Abbotsbury for 13 years, said the workers had been ‘great’. “They have kept the traffic running through as far as they can,” he said.

Wessex Water’s design engineer, Alan Marler, said: “It is inevitable that replacing a water main in the road will cause disruption, but throughout the scheme we have worked closely with local people in the area to try and minimise this as much as possible.

“We would like to thank everyone for their patience while we worked in the village, including the parish council and a number of local businesses .”

Mr Marler added: “The shuttle bus service has played a key part in the early finish of the scheme as it meant we were able to close the road to through traffic, while keeping Abbotsbury open for business as usual.”