In news that will dismay motorists and businesses in Farnham town centre, South East Water has this week confirmed West Street will not reopen in late April as planned.
The water company is yet to confirm a revised schedule for its £1.3 million water pipe upgrade, which has closed West Street in three phases since January 23.
But it says its project team will meet with county council highways officers this week to discuss an “appropriate timescale” and update the public “as soon as we are able to”.
Traffic gridlock is expected to resume in Farnham town centre on Monday as the schools return after the Easter break – and will likely last long into May too following South East Water's announcement.
The main route into Farnham town centre had been expected to reopen in late April after a three-month closure. But “engineering difficulties” have been blamed for setting back the project, with a revised schedule yet to be confirmed.
Jeremy Dufour, South East Water’s project manager, said: “We’re continuing to progress with our pipe installation work along West Street with approximately 280 metres of pipe laid so far.
“Due to engineering difficulties, including a vast number of other utilities our team has had to navigate the new pipe around, progress has been slower than we had anticipated. We worked additional hours over the bank holiday weekend to speed up our work and will continue to work as quickly and safely as possible.
“Our project team will meet with the local Highways team this week to discuss an appropriate timescale of how long it will take to complete work in West Street and we will provide a further update to the local community as soon as we are able to.
“Once again, we are incredibly sorry for any disruption our vital, £1.3 million water network upgrade project may be causing.”
Three months of rolling road closures in West Street got under way on January 23 as South East Water began its £1.3 million water upgrade.
The major upgrade has blocked through traffic between Farnham town centre and Coxbridge roundabout, with West Street currently closed between the Crosby Way and A31 Coxbridge junctions in phase three of the works.
The closures will be in place 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Once the works in West Street are complete, the new pipe will be diverted through private land towards Runwick Lane and crossing the Farnham-bound lane on the A31 Alton Road.
South East Water says it is working closely with residents and businesses in the area to minimise the impact of the project and has stated that the closures are a "last resort."
Stagecoach's route 65 bus will not serve West Street until the road closure is lifted.
As a result, the bus stops at Coxbridge Farm, The Chantrys, Mead Lane and The Hart/Downing Street will not be served throughout this period, with passengers advised to use the bus stops in Farnham town centre at The Borough (towards Guildford) and East Street or South Street (towards Alton) if possible.
Towards Alton, route 65 will divert from East Street via South Street (serving Stop K at Sainsbury’s) and the A31 Farnham bypass. Towards Guildford, route 65 will divert from Coxbridge via the A31 Farnham bypass, South Street, Union Road and Downing Street, to rejoin the normal route at The Borough.
The project will involve the installation of more than 2km of pipe in West Street, on private land, and the A31 Alton Road. Once work approaches Coxbridge Farm the pipe will be diverted through private land towards Runwick Lane. This is schedule to take place between late April and mid-June.
The final phase will involve the pipe crossing the Farnham-bound lane on A31 Alton Road. Runwick Lane will be closed for three weeks while a series of lane closures will be in place along A31 Alton Road.
However, Farnham Town Council's joint-leader David Beaman has warned the roadworks could be the tip of the iceberg, with further works also required in the future by Thames Water “to improve the facilities for disposal of sewerage from the new residential developments”.
Cllr Beaman has expressed frustration that the South East Water and Thames Water works have not been combined.
South East Water says the new water main will strengthen the water network and reduce the risk of supply interruptions arising from new developments in the area.
These include the 120 homes built at Taylor Wimpey's 'Abbey View' development in Crondall Lane, and the 320 houses granted planning permission at Coxbridge Farm.