TRADERS fear traffic chaos will hit their business as over two months of gas works start next week in the centre of Dursley.

Ten weeks of work will begin in Parsonage Street on Monday, January 21 as old metal gas pipes are replaced with modern plastic ones.

A series of temporary traffic lights will be used throughout the day for the first five weeks and then the pedestrianised part of Parsonage Street will have works carried out, with walkers still having access to the high street.

In a leaflet to residents, available at a public drop-in session held last Thursday at Dursley Methodist Church, contractors Wales and West Utilities (WWU) said it would be business as usual and deliveries would be accommodated.

As part of the traffic management plan, temporary four-way traffic lights will be used at the roundabout at the junction of Castle Street, Parsonage Street and May Lane for approximately two weeks.

The next stage will see two-way lights being introduced from that junction up to the junction of Cedar Drive for two weeks.

Finally three-way lights will be used at the junction of Parsonage Street and Cedar Drive for approximately one week.

After attending the drop-in session, Dursley Town Council clerk Helen Bojaniwska said she saw an arduous ten weeks ahead.

"The council is concerned that long-term use of traffic lights between the junction of Castle Street and Cedar Drive is likely to be very disruptive to both traffic and trade for our town centre businesses," she said.

"Having experienced a lengthy period of roadworks when the new roundabout was installed at the junction of Parsonage Street and May Lane, we are very aware of the likely disruption that this new project will cause."

Mrs Bojaniwska said she would be talking to Gloucestershire Highways and WWU to see what measures could be taken to reduce disruption.

Suggestions being considered include making Parsonage Street accessible through the other entrance by the Town Hall as well as having manned traffic lights at peak times.

WWU operations officer Steve Pritchard, who is overseeing the project, said: "We will have a team of experienced gas engineers on site throughout the project and where necessary we will be working at weekends to ensure that the work is completed quickly, efficiently and with minimum disruption.

"Wales and West Utilities is very aware of the effect of this work on local people and businesses and is working closely with the Highways Authority and local councillors to minimise inconvenience."