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OLD TOWN will be a driver’s nightmare over the next few weeks with the possible closure of two main roads at the same time.

Drivers faced a chaotic commute to work yesterday after Devizes Road was shut at the weekend to enable essential sewer work to be carried out.

But after digging up the road, Thames Water have uncovered a bigger problem than they initially expected and have admitted the repairs could take three weeks to fix.

This meant that Devizes Road could have been shut at the same time as Victoria Road, which was due to be closed for up to 10 days. But this has now been posponed.

A spokesman for Thames Water said while Devizes Road is closed between Wood Street and Joiner Lane, traffic is being diverted via Croft Road, Newport Street, High Street, Cricklade Street, Drove Road, Groundwell Road and Victoria Road.

He said: “Our engineers went out over the weekend to repair a collapsed sewer under Devizes Road.

“After digging up the road they discovered a 15 metre-long, two metre-deep void underneath the broken pipe. This is a more serious problem than first anticipated, which will require a 40-metre length of brick sewer to be completely replaced.

“This work could take up to three weeks, during which time Devizes Road is likely to remain closed to traffic.

“We are really sorry to motorists and residents affected by this must-do repair work.

“We are meeting today with the council to agree a plan to sort out this problem as soon as possible.”

Businesses along the road affected are open as usual this week and will continue to trade despite the ongoing work.

Hadi Brooks, owner of Ray’s Ice Cream, said: “The first we knew about it was when we came in to work on Saturday morning and they had started putting barriers up.

“They told us at the time that they may be here for about a week but no date has been confirmed yet.

“We were quieter than normal at the weekend.

“The weather was ok, so I think it was because of the roadworks. It wasn’t terrible, but it was definitely down on what we would normally expect.

“A lot of our customers drive past, see the shop and quickly park up and pop in, while a lot of them drive past in the week when they are going to work or taking the kids to school and they see us then, so they come in when they can.”

Meanwhile, the work in Victoria Road will take place just three weeks after it was closed for seven days for emergency sewer repairs.

The resurfacing work is part of Swindon Council’s scheduled maintenance programme.

Coun Keith Williams, cabinet member for strategic transport, said: “The timing is extremely unfortunate.

“If we delay the resurfacing work we run the risk of even more carriageway damage being caused by freezing weather over the winter, which would add to the overall cost and potentially lead to an even longer closure in the spring.

“We’re sorry for the disruption, but it’s unavoidable and it’s better that it happens sooner rather than later.”

The £100,000 scheme was due to begin yesterday for up to three weeks, although the total closure, which will be between Prospect Place and Cross Street, will begin next Monday.

The diversion route for the closure will be via Groundwell Road, Drove Road, Cricklade Street, High Street, Newport Street, Devizes Road and Bath Road and vice versa.

At the southern end, the road will be closed to through traffic at Bath Road, with access to the area only for its residents and businesses.