FOR weeks it has caused misery for motorists who have been stuck in their cars for hours, while businesses say that they have seen their trade dramatically slashed.

Weeks of works to lay a new water main in Colden Common have seen tensions escalate to such an extent that contractors reportedly called in the police after being verbally abused by angry members of the public.

But finally an end to the nightmare is in sight, as half of Main Road was due to be reopened last night, with temporary traffic lights set up to help ease congestion.

Since its closure on January 6 by Southern Water for essential works, motorists have been caught up in jams for more than an hour and bus services have been suspended, to the frustration of local residents.

Outlying areas have also suffered heavy congestion as desperate drivers tried to find an alternative route.

Businesses at Fisher’s Pond in Colden Common have reported a rapid decline in trade, with some claiming to have lost up to 30 per cent of their usual custom.

But with work reaching completion, the southern half of the road was reopened last night under temporary traffic control. Work, however, will continue until February 28, with roadworks moving further up the road.

Southern Water said that because the location of the full road closure will move north of the Colden Common roundabout, a shorter, local diversion route will be in place. In addition, other alternative routes will be signed to try to minimise congestion.

Temporary traffic lights will also be in place at key points for safety and to try to manage congestion. Motorists are advised that delays are still likely at peak periods until the works are fully complete.

Southern Water project manager Peter Simmons said: “Because of the progress made, we have been able to revise the programme by opening the southern end of Main Road earlier than planned. There will still be traffic disruption for those using the new diversion route but we hope the impact will be less than it is currently.

“I know any disruption is unwelcome and I can assure residents and drivers we’re doing all we can to finish the scheme as soon as possible.

“The new water main is now installed. We must now test and chlorinate it before connecting it to the existing main.”