WORK that got under way last night on a multi-million pound scheme to save one of the city’s busiest road bridges, has been causing travel misery for motorists.

The westbound Redbridge Causeway carriageway, from Redbridge to Totton, was closed from 8pm on Saturday until 5am tomorrow.

Drivers are being forced to take a diversion route, using the M271, to get from Southampton to Totton during this time.

One motorist said: "It was busy, but then again it's always busy.

"The single lane started quite a distance from the closure so it seemed quite organised. People seemed aware it was happening, so perhaps many avoided the area."

However drivers have, today, been leaving Southampton on Millbrook Road West.

As part of the work, Hampshire County Council’s road team is replacing joints on the 1960s bridge, which transport chiefs say are beginning to crumble.

The county council’s executive member for environment and transport, councillor Rob Humby said: “The repairs on this bridge have been carefully planned over a number of months to ensure the least amount of disruption possible.

“This has involved avoiding busy shopping times and co-ordinating work with Southampton City Council and Highways England to avoid any clashes with other roadworks in the area.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank people for their patience while we carry out these essential repairs.”

The £1.2 million project, to replace 21 joints on the bridge, is part of a wider £20 million maintenance scheme.

Phase one is scheduled to take place across seven weekends, including next weekend.

The final one is planned for March next year.

However, weather permitting, transport bosses say the work could be completed in just three weekends.

The council plans then to start a £7 million project to repair the base of the westbound bridge next summer, but it is not expected to lead to more road closures.

Hampshire County Council then hope to raise £12 million for further repairs, including to the eastbound carriageway.

Civic chiefs that without the work, the council may be forced to impose weight restriction on the bridge as early as next year.