THE long wait is over for Pier Road traders in Littlehampton, after almost 18 months of disruption while flood defences were built.
The road was reopened to traffic on Friday afternoon (March 6), with an official ceremony on Tuesday (March 10) to mark the completion of the £22million scheme.
It includes a new raised walkway and landscape features and lighting.
Delays caused by bad weather and difficult ground conditions led to an initial six months closure of River Road from October, 2013, which would have seen the waterfront area open in time for Easter last year, creep further and further back, wiping out the summer season.
Michael Kavalieros, owner of the River Breeze Restaurant in Pier Road for the past 15 years, said: “It’s been like an 18-month prison sentence, then suddenly they let you out. The trade just wasn’t there. People couldn’t get to us.
“They had to do what they had to do with the work, but they could have taken more consideration of the need to tell us the truth that it was going to take much longer.”
Relieved traders handed out free samples of ice cream and fish and chips on Tuesday as crowds enjoyed the spring sunshine to take a stroll along the new-look riverside.
Representatives of the Environment Agency, which funded the lion’s share of the cost, together with Arun District Council, which oversaw the environmental enhancements and West Sussex County Council, which carried out highway improvements, were among those attending the ceremony.
Councillor Terence Chapman, Arun cabinet member for environmental services, said: “The area has been completely transformed and we’re sure it will prove to be a real draw for locals and visitors alike.”