A COUNCILLOR has launched a plea for Usk residents and visitors to continue to support the town ahead of a “difficult” year of disruption.

Work to upgrade 6.5 km of old gas pipes running beneath Bridge Street began this month, bringing with it the prospect of road closures and traffic diversions for the foreseeable future.

Wales and West Utilities are hoping that the £808,000 project will be finished by Christmas this year.

The firm say that the new pipeline, which stretches between Usk and Little Mill, will provide gas for more than 300 homes.

Cllr Jan Richards, who is acting as liaison between Usk Town Council and Wales and West Utilities, maintains that the town remains open for business.

“We want to encourage everyone to continue to visit Usk and to support local businesses and services throughout this difficult time,” she said.

“Shop as usual and take advantage of the traffic-free zone.”

A statement from the town council added: “We acknowledge and share the concerns of local people and business owners as the essential work arrives in Usk.

“We are working closely with Wales and West utilities and Monmouthshire County Council to keep disruption to a minimum.”

A traffic management plan being developed by all three parties will place diversions throughout the town, while temporary traffic lights and parking restrictions are also planned at pinch points.

Vehicles in excess of 7.5 tonnes will be directed away from the town and onto diversionary routes to limit the amount, and type, of traffic using Usk as a through route.

“Local and frequent-use hauliers have been advised to plain with their drivers well in advance,” added Cllr Richards.

The councillor also urged visitors to consider car sharing, cycling, or walking through Usk if possible, and called for drivers to park considerately and legally as to not block traffic.

Wales and West Utilities will have an office at the car park of the Usk Conservative Club in Maryport Street.

Kirk Francis, the firm’s programme controller for the area, said last month that the project was “essential” to keep homes heated, power businesses and future-proof the gas network.

“We have worked closely with Monmouthshire County Council to plan the best way to complete our work while keeping disruption to a minimum,” he said.

“Working in areas like this is never easy but we will work as safely and as quickly as possible to make sure that we get the job done with minimal disruption for local people.”