Burton's MP is calling for the town's High Street to be opened up to traffic while St Peter's Bridge is closed for repair work to ease traffic congestion.
The bridge is a main route to and from town and has been closed since August 29. It has led to major tailbacks for drivers and problems for traders and taxi drivers who have seen business dip as people stay away. It is due to be closed until the end of November.
Now Tory MP Andrew Griffiths is calling for High Street, which is currently pedestrianised, to be opened up to traffic, because he says the town has simply ground to a halt.
Mr Griffiths helped lead the campaign to secure £6.1 million in Government funding to pay for the vital repair work to bridge, whicj needs to have rusted bearing replaced.
But now the MP has admitted, that while the work is essential, he said he shares frustrations that the town has ground to a halt. If the bearings are not replaced a weight restriction would have to be imposed on the bridge.
The problem has prompted the MP to lobby highways authority Staffordshire County Council to allow vehicles through High Street , which the authority has, so far, refused to allow citing the safety risks it poses for pedestrians who use the busy town centre area.
However, many frustrated motorists have been ignoring the ban on using High Street and driving through the pedestrianised street in a bid to beat the jams. The Burton Mail capturing at least 12 cars flouting the no vehicles rule in High Street in just a 10-minute period. Cars flaunting the rules on High Street has been a problem since the rising bollards stopping traffic using it were turned off over cost issues and problems have become worse since the bridge closure.
Mr Griffiths said: "Staffordshire County Council needs to urgently look at all the options available for easing the congestion, and that includes opening the High Street to traffic temporarily. If it would ease the jams, the county council needs a very good reason why they wouldn't do it.
"The bridge works are essential but I share the growing frustration of businesses and residents that the town has ground to a halt. I have written to the chief executive urging him to look at this as just one of the options available."
But the Burton Mail has spoken to several traders in the area want High Street to remain closed to traffic and so far the county council has remained adamant that it cannot reopen High Street to traffic due to safety concerns.
Steven Warnes, owner of Warne's Computers, in Burton's Market Hall, wants High Street to stay car-free, saying that a lot of pedestrians walk that way and the buses still need to get through.
Mark Deaville, the county council's cabinet member responsible for highways and transport, said: "We understand people’s frustrations with major works like these, particularly in central areas with a high density of traffic. We can also assure people that every consideration has been made to mitigating the impact of these works with the resources we have.
"Whenever a road closure is put in place the diversion route must be along the same classification of road as the one being closed, so this was therefore the only practical one. High Street has a traffic order preventing through traffic. It is well used as a semi-pedestrianised area and so to open it to through traffic would put people’s safety at risk."
The £6.1 million scheme to replace bearings needs to be done or the bridge, which is a main route in and out of town, risks having to have a weight restriction imposed on it, the county council has said. The closure has caused traffic congestion leading shoppers to use businesses elsewhere.
This has affected small traders across Burton who claim they are losing customers hand over fist. Taxi firms have also put up their prices to cover costs of sitting in the roadworks.