BUSINESSES and commuters face a difficult three months after transport chiefs revealed a major route into York was unlikely to reopen until Easter.

Sutton Bridge, on the B1228 between Elvington and Sutton-Upon-Derwent, has been closed since last Friday after it was damaged in a suspected traffic accident.

The closure means motorists travelling between Sutton and York, and between Elvington and Howden, face lengthy diversions.

Traders in Elvington said they were suffering badly from the loss of passing trade and the owner of Rydal Garage said if the bridge did not reopen within a month he would go out of business.

“I’m losing about £1,000 every day,” said Roy Handley, owner of Rydal Garage.

“We are struggling anyway because of the recession and we will have to close down if we get a month of no passing traffic."

Tom Fitzpatrick, who runs Elvington Village Stores, said he had already been forced to cut back staff hours.

He said: “It’s disastrous for us. We have lost all our passing trade and turnover has been down by at least a third this week.

“A lot of our fresh food has gone out of date because we’ve had fewer customers coming in and we are having to make a detour to deliver the papers, which is costing us as well."

A spokesman for East Riding of Yorkshire Council said the reason the repair work could not be completed sooner was because the bridge was a listed building. He said: “We have to gain listed building consent for any work that we do and we also have to source the right stone, which means things take longer. We are talking with a contractor over how long repairs might take and every effort is being made to undertake the work as soon as possible with a view to completing it by Easter this year, although we need to fully assess the damage and the work will be weather-dependent."

Humberside Police would like anybody with information about who might have hit the bridge to phone them on 0845 6060 222.