Crewkerne traders are worried about the effect a six-week closure of East Street could have on local businesses.
The street, one of the town’s main entrance roads, faces closure when a £170,000 project to replace a 646-metre stretch of gas main is undertaken next year.
The work is due to start on Monday, January 21, and last 10 weeks.
East Street will be temporarily closed for more than half the duration, from Monday, January 21, until Friday, March 1.
Wales and West Utilities, which has scheduled the work, said Goulds Brook Terrace, Orchard Lane, East Street, Mount Pleasant, Court Barton, Church Street and Market Square will also be affected during the project.
A public information event will be held in Victoria Hall, Market Street, on Wednesday, January 9, from 3pm until 6pm.
Adam Loder, who owns Number 5 the deli and Number 7 the cafe in Crewkerne, said: “It will hit us. People will steer clear of the town however good the diversions are; even if you come down North Street it will be a congestion nightmare.
“I would not be surprised if, in 2014, someone else comes along and digs it all up again.
“Small business don’t really have a say in it. It is a fait accompli, there is very little we can do about it.
“It is another thing put on the back of small businesses. The smaller shops in Crewkerne are what keep the town going and shutting one of the main roads off won’t do anyone any favours.
“Possibly because it is taking place at the start of the year things might be quieter and we won’t miss out on as much. Crewkerne has very pro-active shop owners who do a lot for the town, but people could change their shopping habits.
“The town is congested at the best of times so it won’t help traffic either.”
Jackie Trickett from The Vintage Shoppe said: “We will be going to the public meeting in January although it won’t change what needs to be done.
“We have already had some major roadworks this year and it will affect us.
“I think it’s the wrong time of the year; it is quieter, but that’s why we need every customer we can get.”
Steve Smith, owner of Dailys, said: “This will mostly affect the passing trade the town gets. I think it will be a good little trial for the one-way system which is being proposed in Crewkerne.
“I think it will be an inconvenience for people so I really hope the signage explaining the diversion route is as clear as possible.
“I’m not sure the town can cope with all the traffic and lorries coming in the same way. It could be mayhem.
“I think the businesses on East Street will suffer, but if this work ends up catering for the CLR development later on I think it would be worth the pain in the short term.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day. Crewkerne has its ups and downs and if this helps bring more houses, helping business in the long term, it could be worth it.”
Wales and West Utilities is aiming to minimise the disruption and stressed that all businesses will be open as normal and deliveries will be accommodated.
Operations officer Frank Alton will oversee the project.
He said: “We will have a team of experienced gas engineers on site throughout the project to ensure that the work is completed quickly, efficiently and with minimum disruption.
“Wales and West Utilities is very aware of the effect this work will have on local people and businesses and is working closely with the local authority to minimise inconvenience.”