A MUM-OF-TWO says she fears the closure of a popular bridge in Taunton will put schoolchildren's safety in jeopardy.

Jane McCabe, 52, of Fowler Street, uses the bridge, known locally as 40 steps, to get into the town centre and her youngest daughter walks across the bridge as a shortcut across French Weir Park to The Castle School with her friends.

She said the route is very popular with schoolchildren and parents, and fears the closure on October 28 will put people in danger when they are forced to use town centre roads instead.

She said: “The bridge is a much safer route and with all the traffic in the town it is going to be unbelievable.

“It is disgusting that there is no tem¬porary bridge in place while the work is taking place.”

The bridge runs above the railway line connecting Chip Lane and Cyril Street and will close as part of work to build the £21.8million Northern Inner Distributor Road (NIDR), which will run from the junction of Chip Lane and Staplegrove Road to Priory Avenue near the Toneway.

Somerset County Council say they are replacing the footbridge with a 'new improved crossing' and 'ramped access for disabled users, cyclists and pushchairs'.

They hope to complete the work for May next year and a spokesman said: “This work has been carefully planned with Network Rail so that the realign¬ment of the rail track to accommodate the new road and bridge can take place over Christmas when trains are not running.

“We are also closing the bridge in winter when footfall is at its lowest.”

The council say an alternative route will be signposted along Station Road and apologised in advance for any inconvenience.

The spokesman added: “The new bridge will be a huge benefit to the community and every effort will be made to bring forward the completion to minimise inconvenience.”

Meanwhile, drainage works for the NIDR road will start in Station Road later this month and there will be temporary traffic lights in place for three weeks.