Bridport traders are bracing themselves for the misery of one-way traffic for gasworks at the top of South Street – but have been promised work will stop for the Easter holidays.

The month-long one-way road closure will start tomorrow and will mean southbound traffic won’t be allowed into South Street because of the 100-metre gasworks between Folly Mill Lane and Church Street.

It was originally intended work would continue with temporary traffic lights, but with reduced road widths, Southern Gas Networks has decided to close the road with a one-way system in place.

There will be no parking on the eastern side of South Street.

Construction manager Colin Horne said the road was being closed completely for public safety and to lay the new mains pipe in the best position in the road.

Traffic is being diverted along East Street, Sea Road South to the Crown roundabout and up South Street.

The £400,000 scheme began last September and was due to be over by Easter this year but engineering problems and listed building consents held work up.

Traders feared major disruption during the summer as the replacement pipe project moved into East Street or worse yet remained by Gundry Lane with South Street closed.

But they secured promises that work will stop for Easter and the summer but still face major disruption as it reaches the top of South Street and Bucky Doo Square.

Market traders representative Steve Hibbs said it had been chaotic with the market.

He said: “The traders have been put out because it was a bit of a surprise that when they do the works they do last such a long stretch at a time.

“The traders were disgruntled about the trouble they had loading and unloading and parking.

“It is too early to say if they will be asking for compensation but it is something we are keeping an eye on and will be looking into. It is inevitable with major works like this that there is going to be more disruption to the market.”

Steph Garner, of Bridport Music in South Street, said she was so worried about the potential impact she’s already downloaded compensation forms.

She said: “I am anticipating it causing problems so much that when I first received the letters I downloaded the compensation pack.

“But it does look like they have taken on board the fact we would rather they did not do too much during the summer, which is a real spike for us in terms of trading.

“When people see these signs that say ‘road closed’ I think they put people off.

“People might just think: ‘Oh I’ll just go somewhere else’ and it is such a big year for us to do something to try and capitalise on the Olympics.

“This is a real quiet time for us but as soon as you hit February half term it starts to pick up and every weekend there are always visitors.

“Just going on until the Easter holidays will have a major impact.”

Judith Pass, who has a gift shop in South Street, added: “I know it is going to affect us.

“But it is going to have to come past the shop and that’s it really.

“It’s got to be done and you can smell gas quite a bit some days and there are a lot of holes outside my shop, they told me.

“You just have to hope they get it done now rather than when we are busy coming towards Easter.”

Gas officials say work planned for East Street won’t resume until the end of the summer holiday season.