Motorists are likely to suffer serious delays as the A27 is closed for up to five weekends.

The A27 has long been plagued with traffic jams and delays.

But engineering works are scheduled for the bridge over the railway line at Arundel which will completely close it to traffic in both directions.

The closures will be from 8pm on Fridays until 6am on Mondays for up to five weekends, starting in September.

A diversion will take traffic from the A27 at Crossbush, down the A284 to Littlehampton through Lyminster and Wick, along the A259 to Bognor and then up the A29 and back on to the A27 at Fontwell.

Traders in Arundel are worried that they will suffer a drop in takings as people will be unable to get to the town from the east without taking the diversion.

Jonathan Brantigan, joint owner of independent delicatessen Pallant Of Arundel, said: "The issue was brought up at our chamber of trade meeting and members were very concerned about these closures.

"September is effectively another month of summer in the calendar and Arundel is as busy as ever then."

The diversion is expected to cause traffic jams in Littlehampton as well, as the town's roads struggle to cope with the increased volume of traffic.

The first weekend of work coincides with the Littlehampton Town Show on September 13 at the Rosemead Recreation Ground where the town's roads will already be packed with vehicles.

People taking short cuts through the town and around the diversion up Ford Road are also expected to add to the problems.

The bridge, which carries the road over the Arun Valley railway line, needs waterproofing and resurfacing.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said the work was "essential"

and that it was hoped it would be completed in three weekends rather than the five scheduled.

He said: "This is essential safety work which needs to be carried out.

"The bridge needs resurfacing and waterproofing and while that is being done we will also be repairing any damaged brickwork.

"The reason we are closing the road for whole weekends is that we want to complete the work in the shortest amount of time and we have been careful to keep the A27 open at peak times.

"We hope to be able to get it finished well within the five weekends and we are committed to limiting delays when carrying out roadworks.

"Although this may seem like a long time to close the road, it's the best way of carrying out this work."

The work is expected to be carried out from September 12 to 15 and 26 to 29, October 10 to 13 and 17 to 20. The final weekend would see the bridge closed from October 31 to November 3.

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