SOUTHAMPTON is set to be plunged into gridlock as works to rebuild a busy motorway bridge will begin this weekend.

Civic chiefs said the eastern, northern and western approaches to the city including Stoneham Way, Millbrook Road and Basset Avenue are expected to be busy this weekend as work to rebuild Romsey Road Bridge will start on September 28, with the M27 set to be closed from junction 3 to 5 until 5am on October 1.

But opposition councillor Steven Galton said the whole city could be at gridlock with area such as Shirley, Millbrook, Portswood and Bassett likely to be the most affected.

“It will be local roads that will take that strain. It’s advisable to avoid driving. We’ve got the potential for the whole city to be at standstill,”he said.

And added: “One of my big concerns is that we have Music in the City, more than 200 artists in 21 different venues across the city. That attracts tens of thousands of people. It’s unfortunate it’s going to clash with the roadworks.”

Festival organiser Linda Norris said: “We’ll keep going. We can’t have an impact on the problem but we can work around it. It’s sad but there’s nothing we can do. We just have to get on with it and do our best.”

The city council said it will not publish a list of alternative routes in the city as the impact of the roadworks “will be wide”.

Civic chiefs said they are expecting “significant disruption in Southampton and the surrounding road network”.

The traffic management on current improvement works at Stoneham Way will be lifted over the weekend and the authority has said that it will ensure that there are no other lane closures on key routes.

Cllr Jacqui Rayment, pictured, cabinet member for transport and public realm, said: “We will be doing what we can locally to minimise the impact of the motorway closure and to warn people of disruption. We expect significant delays to journey times so please do plan ahead. If you’re travelling to or around Southampton over that weekend make sure you allow extra time for your journey and take public transport, walk or cycle where possible.”

As previously reported, Romsey Road bridge carries the A3057 over the M27 between Upton and Nursling.

Highways England said the replacement bridge has a different design and will have a lifespan of 120 years.

Highways England project sponsor Andrew Winson said the new bridge will be built in the site compound nearby and lifted into place. The M27 will be closed again from April 26 to 29 and between October 18 and 21, both 2019.