COMMUTERS are bracing themselves for disruption as work gets under way on one of the main river crossing routes into and out of North-East city centre, today.

The road route on the High Level Bridge, Newcastle, over the River Tyne, closed to traffic last night, at the start of an eight-month major repair project.

Bridge owner Network Rail is refurbishing rotting timbers and carrying out other renovations as part of a £15m six-year programme of improvements.

Highway engineers have pledged to keep congestion to a minimum, but warn that the first few days of the closure could prove problematic as people adjust to alternatives road routes between Gateshead and Newcastle.

Double yellow lines have been added on the north side of Mosley and Collingwood streets, in Newcastle city centre, to free up a lane for use by some of the estimated 9,000 vehicles being diverted away from the bridge.

A lane for use by buses and taxis has been added to Mosley Street, on the stretch between the Groat Market and Swan House roundabout.

The slip road from the Swan House roundabout on to the Tyne Bridge will be open for bus use only between 7am and 7pm, and for buses and taxis only at other times.

The bridge's upper level will remain in use by rail traffic throughout the period of the work, while pedestrian access will also be unaffected.