IT will be business as usual while major roadworks are being carried out in Exeter, city centre manager John Harvey has pledged.
As previously revealed in the Echo, essential work to address persistent drainage and subsidence problems in part of the city centre begins on Wednesday, January 16.
The work will last until March 28, just before the start of Easter. New gullies and pipework will be installed along the length of the road from Queen Street to Broadgate.
Previous work to resolve 'settling' of the road and drainage problems proved short-lived and the existing gully system is failing to handle surface water, causing further damage to the road's substructure.
Mr Harvey said: "The works are essential and, although no-one ever likes such work, it is needed to put right a problem with its roots back in the city's post-war reconstruction.
"Extensive consultation has been, and continues to be, undertaken with the city centre business community and we've taken great care over the timetabling of the work, with the aim being to minimise the impact on shoppers and visitors to the city centre. Work should be completed before the important Easter period."
Mr Harvey added: "Our recent track record on managing major utility works in the city centre is exceptional, and I'll be looking for more of the same."
To be completed in phases, South West Highways will initially work overnight to avoid disruption during the day. Pedestrian access will be maintained throughout the whole period, and buses will continue to run, with a short diversion.
Taking advantage of the work, and to minimise any further inconvenience to the public and businesses, Wales and West will also be replacing a gas main in the footway from Broadgate towards the NatWest bank during the same period.
Timing for the work has been scheduled to fall after the rush of January sales and before the Easter holidays, to cause as little disruption as possible.
Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon's cabinet member responsible for highways and transportation, said: "The work is essential. We've tried to address these long-standing problems with drainage and subsidence for some years, and with some success.
"However, this work should really get to the bottom of the underlying problems.
"We will be doing everything we can to minimise the impact on pedestrians, businesses and local residents throughout the duration, but I should apologise in advance for any inconvenience this may cause."
County councillor for St David's and St James, Philip Brock, said: "I am pleased that this work will be carried out to minimise disruption.
"It will be a testing time for businesses, city workers, and shoppers, but I hope everyone will understand the importance of having these essential works carried out."