THE county council's top bridge engineer has apologised for Stourport Bridge rush hour traffic delays.

Richard Atwood, Worcestershire County Council's senior bridge engineer who is overseeing the project said signal timings would be changed after drivers queued in up to 40-minute tailbacks, today.

He said: "I've just spoken to the site contractors and they've suggested modifying the timings of the signals.

"We had hoped to get two-way lights by today but we thought there may be short periods where temporary lights would be left in place.

"We couldn't do these works at the weekend because the tarmac had to go off."

He added the planned date for the bridge to re-open to two-way traffic was Friday but hoped temporary lights could come down as early as 5pm, tomorrow.

Former Wyre Forest district councillor, Ray Smith, of St Bartholomew's Road, uses the bridge to commute to and from work in Birmingham, each weekday.

He said: "I queued for 40 minutes this morning. My wife left the house at 7.45am and phoned me to say 'leave before you're planning to.'

"The queue on the Great Witley side, at 10am, was back to Pearl Lane.

"To see them dig it up it's rubbing salt into the wound.

"The fact is that if the bridge needs resurfacing and it had taken another week I could understand that.

"I can't deal with the fact they've put this new surface down and dug trenches in it."

Site engineers, Nuttall, are digging two trenches in the road to install asphaltic plug joints or 'plugs' which allow the bridge's surface to expand and contract in both warm and cold weather.

Myles Carton, site manager, said the works, which began today, had been planned and confirmed they were set to finish by 5pm, tomorrow.

The historic bridge is undergoing the last phase of its renovation and had been resurfaced during the weekend.

Mr Atwood added: "If you could convey the county council's apologies for the delays we will adjust the lights and hopefully get things running as smoothly as we can."