MOTORISTS are facing a year of major disruption after water officials revealed the continuation of £1million pipe-laying plans immediately following the end of delayed Stourport Bridge works.

Severn Trent Water has confirmed there will be no relief for Stourport drivers when engineers finish delay-hit works to the town's 136-year-old bridge, when replacement piping is installed at the end of May.

Ben Smallman, water company spokesman, said: "After talking with Worcestershire County Council, we pulled out of the town and let their engineers get on with the work, starting last year, because having two lots of massively disruptive roadworks in the town is the last thing we wanted.

"We're looking at the end of May for when the council will finish their work and after that we'll be back in the town, relaying the pipes, completing the project by March, 2008."

Severn Trent's Lower Lickhill Programme will affect Bridge Street, York Street, High Street, and additional roads on the one-way system, replacing cast iron water pipes, dating back to the 1800s, with plastic mains.

Bob Lloyd, county council streetworks engineer, said: "I'm trying to get a meeting organised with Severn Trent to minimise the disruptions but there's bound to be problems because they're major roads."

He added roadworks would also affect Gilgal, Mitton Street and Worcester Road but were necessary to tackle ageing mains workings, avoiding future leaks.

The news is another blow to drivers using the town following an apology by the county council's senior bridge engineer after announcing fresh delays to works, beset by problems including bad weather, discovery of several structural problems and cement setting on site before it could be poured.

Richard Atwood said: "I can say - and this is with profound apologies - we are unable to have the road open to two-way traffic over the Easter holidays."

Workmen began essential works to strengthen and clean up the bridge in October, planning to re-open the road to two-way traffic by Easter, now rescheduled, for May.

Because of the agreement between the county council and the water company, Severn Trent cannot begin roadworks until bridge engineering ends.

Town councillor David Little said: "Richard Atwood has found it impossible to schedule the water company's pipework alongside the bridge works and tarmacing.

"We've got lights on the bridge now, we're five weeks behind schedule already, so it's slipping, and then we'll be into June and then Severn Trent will come along and put up their traffic lights."