A bridge too far no longer

A bus using the bridge before the ban

A bus using the bridge before the ban

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A bridge is set to re-open to buses next month after safety fears were allayed by structural engineers.

Network Rail has carried out a fresh assessment of Lytham Road Bridge in South Shore and has deemed it is strong enough to carry buses.

The vehicles have been banned since early 2011 with buses and coaches diverted through Station Road, Bond Street and Watson Road instead.

However, heavy goods vehicles will still be prohibited from using the bridge which has had a weight restriction of 7.5 tonnes since 2006.

From Sunday, October 6, Blackpool Transport buses on routes 5 and 11 plus Stagecoach route 68 will re-use the bridge.

Coun John Jones, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “For a couple of years we had asked the buses to use a different route.

“This was based on advice we had received from analysts, who had structurally surveyed the bridge and given us a suggested weight restriction, so as to protect the long term strength of rivets on the bridge.

“Based on the advice we received at the time, it was only right we shut the road off to heavy vehicles to be absolutely sure that it was safe.

“However, when we heard about a new set of technology that could now be used to provide a more accurate assessment of the strength of the rivets, we invited Network Rail to come and re-assess the bridge.

“The new advice we’ve received means we can re-open it to buses safely and I’m keen to do that as soon as possible.”

While the bridge will re-open, Coun Jones said the council is “progressing well with looking for more permanent solutions to repair the bridge for the long term”.

He added: “We are in discussions with Network Rail, who share the responsibility for the bridge structure, to get details about the extent of repair needed and the cost of it.”

Waterloo ward councillor Tony Lee said residents were delighted at the move.

He said: “They are over the moon. It will make a big difference to residents.

“Hopefully we can have Station Road looked at see if we can get the road surface up to scratch because it has taken a real battering while the buses have been diverted.”