TOURISTS could face huge delays visiting some of Wales' most popular destinations because of roadworks at the entrance to Swansea during the height of summer.
Businesses are furious about council plans to remove a rail bridge on the main approach to the city, causing major traffic queues for visitors heading for Mumbles and Gower.
Geoff Haden, who chairs Tourism Swansea, the local association of leisure and tourist businesses, is angry that Swansea City and County Council gave no notice of the plans.
From this Friday, Fabian Way which takes traffic approaching from the east into Swansea, will be partially closed for four weekends in a row.
The road closure and diversion will allow the 60-year-old East Sidings rail bridge to be taken down.
The authority wants to replace the bridge, which has not been in use since the 1970s, with a more attractive structure.
The new bridge is designed to be a landmark structure like the Sail Bridge across the River Tawe and will allow access to cyclists and pedestrians to the new SA1 development site.
But the partial road closure from midnight on Friday until 6am the following Monday for the next four weekends will cause traffic misery at an important time for the tourist industry.
Mr Haden said yesterday the move would damage trade in the area and could put potential visitors off.
He said, "I think that maybe now is the time for Swansea City and County Council to ask itself whether it wants to support a tourism industry in the city or not.
"Improving transport links to the city is vital but it is a question of timing.
"Our members have been given less than a week to warn their visitors of the problems they will face.
"Why did we not get more notice?
"Even though we have regular meetings with the tourism marketing department of the council it is clear that not even they have been told about this major road closure.
"Whatever council officials may think, the main holiday season started at Spring Bank-Holiday and at weekends hotels and camp sites are full of holidaymakers through until September.
"After the chaos caused last summer by the roadworks to change the entrance to the car park next to Swansea Leisure Centre we have sought assurances that major roadworks would not take place during the peak holiday season.
"It is time the council had a coherent policy about the time and programming of major roadworks.
"We are also threatened with more chaos where summer roadworks could be under way to improve pedestrian access to the National Waterfront Museum, which is currently under construction.
"People are starting to see Swansea as one big roadworks."
Fabian Way is packed at summer weekends as holidaymakers heading for the Gower Peninsula make their way off the M4.
Between July and November 2001 there were long traffic tailbacks along Fabian Way when resurfacing work was done.
A Swansea City and County Council spokesman said yesterday, "The removal of the bridge is the first phase of an exciting development to provide Swansea with an impressive gateway.
"The new bridge will carry an express bus route to service the Fabian Way park and ride site resulting in a faster service into Swansea and also taking buses off Fabian Way, shortening-journey times for motorists.
"There is never a good time to undertake major roadworks and recent works elsewhere in the city by Welsh Water and Transco have also led to disruption.
"Fortunately, Swansea motorists have shown great patience, and understand if the city is to become a modern vibrant place then works of this nature are necessary."
During the weekend closures Fabian Way will be shut to eastbound through traffic from its junction with Port Tennant Road and restricted to 7.5-tonne vehicles and below in a westerly direction.
Local access to the docks and ferry port will still be available to all vehicles in a westbound direction.
Through-westbound traffic will be diverted via Langdon Road.
Traffic from the M4 will be directed to use the M4 junction 45 at Ynysforgan instead of Junction 42 at Briton Ferry.
Eastbound traffic leaving the city centre will be diverted northwards to Junction 45 at Ynysforgan.