MAJOR work to replace a gas pipe on a key route into the city is set to continue for at least another three weeks.

Motorists have been caught in constant tailbacks on the A35 Redbridge Causeway throughout the school holidays, as a result of the work which included closing a lane of the dual carriageway.

But now, due to “engineering complications”, the sliproad closure from the eastbound carriageway to Redbridge roundabout, is set to stay in place for another three weeks.

SGN say the work should be complete by Monday September 20. Redbridge Causeway carries around 60,000 vehicles in and out of Southampton on a regular day.

The gas pipe work was due to finish today. It forms part of a bigger £25million project which includes repairing the structures which carry the A35 Redbridge Causeway.

A letter to councillors from Hampshire County Council highways and SGN said: “SGN explored all options before making this decision, and are working as quickly and as safely as possible to complete this work without further delays.”

The letter said the original plan involved inserting the new gas pipe through an old, abandoned gas main within the slip road footpath.

But a section of the abandoned main is blocked, and engineers now have to cut the entire length of the slip road.

In a bid to alleviate tailbacks, the A35 eastbound lane closure from the approach to the Totton on-slip until start of the off-slip to Redbridge Roundabout will be taken off.

A spokesperson for SGN said: "We’re upgrading our gas network in Southampton at the request of Hampshire County Council.

"We need to extend the closure of the A35 eastbound slip road to Redbridge Roundabout by an additional three weeks. We hope to complete our work by Monday 20 September.

"The A35 eastbound lane closure, from the approach to the Totton on-slip until start of the off-slip to Redbridge Roundabout, will be removed on Monday 30 August."

David Harrison, Hampshire County Council representative for Totton south and Marchwood said: “There’s already a high level of frustration amongst regular commuters and I think that will only worsen the longer the works take.

“SGN discovered they couldn’t finish the works in time so now they’ve got to use plan B. I think a lot of people will be disappointed.

“That blasted gas pipe that runs underneath the causeway has caused problems for years.”

"I can only hope this is the last time it needs repairing.”

Deputy leader and cabinet member for growth for Southampton City Council (SCC), Jeremy Moulton said this was a ‘key gateway’.

"We are keen to see these works completed asap as this is a key gateway into the city.

“Southampton City Council understands residents’ frustrations but the Hampshire County Council major bridge repairs are an important infrastructure project and it’s important to get the gas utility connections resilient for the future as part of the structural repairs.”