Motorists were able to breathe a sign of relief this morning after one of the busiest routes on the Fylde coast was finally reopened.
After six months of work to demolish and rebuild it, barriers preventing access to Crossley’s Bridge in Plymouth Road, Blackpool, were removed just before 8pm yesterday.
Temporary traffic lights will remain until July 27 while more work is carried out, but opening the new £6.1m bridge – necessary because the old one was rotting – should spell the end of the traffic nightmare commuters have put up with throughout the winter.
Local councillor Christine Wright said she was ‘absolutely delighted’ – and praised the contractors who worked through the night to get the bridge finished on time.
She said: “They have done a wonderful job. I’m sure residents in Warley Road and Warbreck Hill Road will be happy there won’t be as much traffic cutting through.”
The number nine bus service was expected to return to Layton this morning, though buses will continue to stop in traffic bays – rather than in the road as normal – until all four lanes across the bridge are re-open later this summer.
That will be kept ‘under review’, the council said, and could see the end to buses stopping in Westcliffe Drive to allow passengers on and off.
A number of traffic signals tweaked prior to the bridge shutting will be adjusted back, and temporary double yellow lines in Warbreck Hill Road, close to Unity, will be removed today, weather permitting.
They were introduced to allow emergency services better access after the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) expressed concern about the impact the bridge closure would have on response times.
David Rigby, Fylde manager for NWAS, said paramedics will now be able to ‘navigate around town more easily, including to Blackpool Victoria Hospital’. He added: “Any serious traffic delays will inevitably affect our travel times.
“However it’s very difficult to be more specific than this. “But patients can be assured that this has not had a negative impact on patient care.”
The council said it will look at improving the traffic flow at the Plymouth Road roundabout, and the lights at the junction of Bispham Road, Warbreck Hill Road, and Holyoake Avenue, once traffic goes back to normal.
The plaque from the original bridge, which dated back over 80 years, has been cleaned and refurbished and will be installed on the new bridge in July before an official opening ceremony. Talks are also ongoing with ministers to carry out a blessing.