A ROAD closed after drivers were found to be using it as an ‘unofficial diversion’ is expected to remain inaccessible for the next eight weeks.

Dovecliffe Road in Wombwell was closed on February 27 after an increase in the volume of traffic combined with the bad weather to cause significant damage to its surface.

The increase in use was, according to a Barnsley Council spokesman, due to drivers attempting to avoid a diversion put in place following the closure of Hough Lane while the road’s railway bridge is replaced.

Some commuters have claimed the signposted diversion - via Wood Walk, Dearne Valley Parkway, Wath Road, Valley Way, Mayflower Way, Park Street and Church Street - has added up to an hour on to their rush hour journeys.

Jan Bell, from the Bolthole Cafe on Dovecliffe Road, said trade had initially been affected by the Hough Lane closure but had since picked up.

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However, since the most recent closure she said some staff struggled to get into work and, while the cafe still gets its ‘regulars’, passing trade has been affected.

“It’s making life a bit more difficult for us all,” she said.

“What used to be a few minutes’ drive now takes 15 to 20 minutes.

“There are massive ruts and potholes. I’ve heard a lot of people are trying to put claims in with the council because of damage to their vehicles.

“One of our customers had their wheel destroyed in a pothole.

“It needed repairing anyway - perhaps it could’ve been done before they closed the bridge.”

According to Network Rail, the bridge will be removed by workers at some point in the spring but the prolonged closure will allow utilities such as gas, electricity and water to be removed from the bridge ahead of it being demolished and reconstructed.

Train services on the Sheffield to Leeds line will be largely unaffected, apart from when the bridge is physically removed later in the process, and buses will be put on for passengers during the weekend in which it’s lifted out.

Wombwell Coun Brenda Eastwood said: “These roads aren’t meant for such heavy traffic, that’s why the council is constantly having to fill potholes in.

“But the weather we’ve had hasn’t been helping.”

The road is closed from Station Road, Worsbrough, to Wood Walk, with access to Pit Lane and Smithley Lane for residents only.

While Dovecliffe Road is expected to be closed for eight weeks, the Hough Lane closure - which stretches from Dovecliffe Road to Foundry Gate - will last until June according to Network Rail.

A spokesman from Network Rail added: “We are working closely with Barnsley Council to keep disruption to a minimum.

“Bridges on our network, many of which were built during the Victorian era, can reach the point where major works are needed.

“Network Rail would like to thank all those impacted for their patience while this vital work takes place.”