A SEVEN-mile stretch of the A377 will be closed for at least seven weeks while roadworks are carried out.
A 26-mile diversion has been put in place, directing traffic via South Molton, following the 100m closure between Umberleigh and Kingford Bridge.
The road, which was closed on Monday, will remain closed until the end of October.
Devon County Council said the lengthy closure is “necessary” to allow workers to build a new retaining wall and repair the embankment damaged by flooding.
A Devon County Council spokesman said: “The riverbanks have suffered from significant erosion and slip caused by the winter storm damage.
“This resulted in the carriageway being placed under traffic light control to keep vehicles away from the dangerous embankment edge.
“The slip has been deteriorating further and the work currently being undertaken is to construct a new retaining wall along the damaged length of embankment to prevent further damage this winter that may necessitate the closure of the road for safety reasons.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused to motorists, however it is necessary for the road to be closed to allow the construction works to be undertaken safely.”
The road is not due to reopen until at least October 29, according to the council’s interactive map of roadworks in the county.
Motorists will be diverted via Kings Nympton, George Nympton, South Molton, Barnstaple Road, the road from Filleigh Bridge to Aller Cross, the road from Stags Head to Kingsland Barton, Nadder Lane, Umberleigh and vice-versa.
Gerald Colwill, owner of Murco petrol station which is situated on the A377 just before Umberleigh, said although the garage is not in the area affected by the closure, it will have an impact on sales from fewer people driving through.
“We have had a noticeable decline,” he said. “No one told us about it, and two months is a long time. If it has the same effect as the last closure did I will be taking the matter very seriously.
“It isn’t a disaster, but it has definitely had an effect on sales.”
The Rising Sun Inn, on the A377 at Umberleigh, is just where the diversion starts.
The pub’s manager Karen Pratley said: “The closure is just to the right of the pub and the traffic has been building quite a bit since the closure started, with everyone heading off on the back roads.
“It is OK at the moment but obviously it has only just started. People trying to get through to us from the Chulmleigh direction are going to have difficulty getting through the diversion.
“The holidays might be over but we still have people coming down to stay.
“We had one gentlemen come in yesterday who had a lot of problems trying to find his way here, which will happen more particularly with people going along the diversion at night.”
Pat Leach, who commutes from Crediton to Barnstaple every day, said:
“I understand that the A377 needs to be closed for roadworks but it’s such a busy road and the detours take you miles out of your way.
“I would have thought in this day and age they could find a way to keep it open during the day – even if it’s single-file traffic over a temporary bridge - and work on it at night.
“It’s shut for such a long time, too, that it’s going to cost me pounds in extra fuel. But I don’t think the council particularly cares about poor commuters.”
People have taken to Twitter so share their views about the closure.
Daniel Owen wrote: "I live near it. As usual, no warning before it started and useless signage for the diversion."
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