THE A13 has been closed for 48 hours between Pitsea and Sadlers Farm.
The road shut at 5am this morning and will remain closed until 5am on Monday while a bridge is demolished as part of the £65million Sadlers Farm junction scheme.
Contractors are spending the weekend taking down the old Church Road Bridge, which passes over the A13 in Pitsea, linking Church Road with London Road.
The closure is likely to cause huge delays for drivers, while some traders in nearby towns are even warning it could put them out of business.
Some people living nearby, aware of the likely chaos, are planning to stay off the road for the weekend.
Louise Smith, 35, of Downer Road, North Benfleet, said: “I don’t even want to imagine how bad it’s going to be. We’re not going to even attempt to get out.”
The closures are expected to lead to huge jams on roads as far out as Billericay and Brentwood, as drivers take to the A128, A127, A176 and A1245.
There are also concerns the roadworks could over-run, leaving the A13 closed for Monday morning’s rush hour.
This happened in November, when overnight resurfacing work on the A130 overran.
James Manston, 54, of Dinant Avenue, Canvey, has already changed his travel plans on Monday, in anticipation of serious delays.
He said: “The traffic is just going to be a nightmare. Anyone brave enough to go out over the weekend will just get stuck in queues, because everyone will be trying to squeeze on to the old London
Road and it’s all going to get backed up.”
Tracey Chapman, county councillor responsible for highways, apologised in advance for any disruption caused by the work.
She added: “It is absolutely necessary, in order for the safe deconstruction of the old Church Road Bridge to take place.”