DRIVERS in Northwich and Middlewich could face 15 weeks of disruption next year as a major gas pipe upgrade is completed.

Gas network Cadent will begin work will begin on Monday, January 8, to replace 3km of underground pipes to ensure a reliable gas supply across Cheshire.

The essential upgrade means a stretch of the A530 in King Street will be closed – from near the Morrisons distribution centre in Rudheath, to near the junction for Croxton Lane.

Diversions will be in place throughout the duration of the works, with motorists advised to either use the B5082 and B5081 through Lach Dennis and Byley, or the A54, A533 and A566 past Bostock, Davenham and Moulton.

Mark Threlfall, who is managing this project for Cadent, said: "This is the biggest single project we’ve done in the last five years in the north west, in terms of upgrading gas pipes.

"It’s a major engineering feat and, by nature of the fact the pipe is under the road, we just can’t do it without causing some disruption.

"We’re determined though to keep that to a minimum, which is why we want people to tell us about any local issues.”

The pipe has been in use for 70 years, and the work is expected to ensure a reliable gas supply continues for the next eight decades.

Mr Threlfall added: "The pipe has served the area well since the end of the Second World War, so a terrific bit of engineering.

"But it’s now time for it to be replaced, to ensure safe and reliable gas supplies through Nantwich, Middlewich and Crewe.

"We’ll be increasing the size of the pipe too, installing a plastic pipe the same diameter as a car tyre, which will help with meeting demand for gas in the area."

Leaflets have been sent to homes affected by the works, while a drop-in session will also take place at St Mary’s RC Church, in New King Street, Middlewich, from 10am to 3pm on Thursday, December 14. Alternatively call 0161 703 1000.