WHITCHURCH toll bridge closed today for a seven-month refurbishment programme.
Motorists are being diverted via the nearest alternative bridge in Goring and there are signs warning drivers of the closure along the A4074 Reading Road and at the crossroads in Crays Pond.
The road between Crays Pond and Whitchurch via Whitchurch Hill is closed except for access.
Despite fears that there would be traffic jams in Goring and Whitchurch, the main roads in both villages were quiet throughout this morning’s rush hour.
Police were monitoring traffic in Goring high street but said there had been no problems.
Sgt Graham Pink, of Henley police, said: “I’ve been here all morning with one of my Pcsos and one of my police officers.
“We have given Whitchurch Parish Council our contact details so they can reach us if they have any trouble down there.
“We’ve encountered no issues at all - traffic is running smoothly and most people I’ve spoken to say it’s going well.
“It’s obviously the first day and most of the drivers we’ve spoken to are leaving earlier to go to work.
“We would stress that people shouldn’t leave it later in future just because they’ve had a smooth run today.
“People need to carry on leaving enough time because things could get a lot slower in bad weather or road conditions.”
The 142 bus from Reading to Checkendon via Woodcote, Whitchurch and Goring will continue to run via the diversionary route.
The Boathouse Surgery in Pangbourne, which serves Whitchurch, will run a limited outreach service at the village hall every Tuesday morning.
The bridge, which is more than 100 years old, is being strengthened to cope with the weight of modern traffic.
Contractor Birse Civils will reinforce the underside of the bridge with steel girders and add a waterproof coating to the structure before re-opening it on April 14.
There is a temporary footbridge over the river while the work is carried out.
The Whitchurch Bridge Company says the refurbishment must be carried out by 2015 in order for the Grade II listed structure to remain safe.
Motorists who have bought their crossings in bulk using a pre-paid card will still be able to redeem them when the bridge re-opens. However, the cost per crossing on the pre-paid scheme is to rise from 20p to 29.4p. The 40p cash toll remains unaffected.