SAFETY fears mean one of Huddersfield's most historic and busiest bridges is to face traffic restrictions.
Concerns about the capacity of King's Bridge in Huddersfield to cope with heavier lorries means it will be restricted to a single lane.
It means the thousands of motorists who use it every day will face severe delays.
The safety work needed on the bridge will not be carried out until spring 2005 at the earliest, because engineers have to draw up detailed reinforcement plans.
The bridge carries traffic from Firth Street towards Newsome.
It is one of almost 500 that Kirklees Council engineers are having to inspect for safety reasons in the wake of the European Union decision to allow heavier lorries on British roads.
The King's Bridge is owned by the council and carries King's Bridge Road over the River Colne at the bottom of Newsome Road near its junction with King's Mill Lane.
A recent load assessment found that the bridge structure did not meet the recently increased loading standards.
A further review has found that the loading standard could be met if the bridge is restricted to a single lane along the centre and controlled by extending the traffic lights back over the bridge.
The alternative to restricting the bridge to a single lane would be to impose a weight restriction which would impede buses, fire engines and lorries visiting local companies.
Pedestrians and bus routes will not be affected by the changes.
A council spokesman said: "Restricting the bridge to a single lane is an interim measure and is due to come into effect on Tuesday, March 30. It will remain in force until the permanent strengthening works which are planned for spring 2005.
Clr David Payne, Cabinet member for Environment and Transportation, said: "This bridge has served the people of Huddersfield well but is not able to cope with the higher standards that increasing commercial vehicle weights make necessary.
"One-way working is the best compromise we can achieve until we are in a position to strengthen the bridge."
Mr Doug Potter, of the council's Highways Service, said: "The checks we made show that sections beneath the footway and part of the road itself are potentially unsafe.
"It follows the decision to allow 40-tonne vehicles on British roads. We are having to check hundreds of bridges and culverts and it is a mammoth task.
"The King's Mill Bridge dates to the 1880s and it will be a major design project to carry out the repairs.
"We will try to keep as many of the original cast-iron and wrought-iron features as we can."