Work on Crossley’s Bridge is on track and the major route is set to partially re-open next Friday, the council said.
It marks the end of six months’ of delays and diversions as contractors demolished and rebuilt the bridge, in Plymouth Road, Blackpool, as part of a £6.1 million project.
Traffic on nearby roads slowed to a crawl during rush hour, ambulance bosses expressed concern about the impact on 999 response times, buses were hit by delays, and extra trams ran to carry fed-up motorists who decided to leave their vehicles at home.
Throughout next week, contractors will be installing street lighting, laying new footpaths, and resurfacing Plymouth Road with the first level of asphalt.
Work will then begin to dismantle the temporary bridge put up last year so pedestrians and cyclists would not be impacted by the closure.
Utility cables and pipes currently running under the walkway will also be moved back under the main bridge, which has been heightened to allow for rail electrification works to be carried out on the line below.
Although the road will be open to traffic again for the first time since early November, restrictions will remain in place until that work is carried out.
Similar to roadworks that were carried out over last summer, two-way traffic will be maintained at all times, but there will be a need for temporary traffic lights at times, and some lane closures until Thursday, July 27, a council spokesman added.
Town hall officials said the 85-year-old bridge, next to Layton train station, needed to be replaced because the steelwork on it was rotting and no longer fit for purpose.
Partial road closures began last July and the four-lane road, which links Bispham and Cleveleys to Blackpool, Wyre, and the M55, closed to traffic the day after the Illuminations ended.
As a result, Layton lost its number nine bus service, while bus stops in Westcliffe Drive were moved into nearby parking bays to help traffic run more smoothly.
Some 19 traffic signals were also tweaked, while temporary double yellow lines were painted close to Unity Academy to widen the road for emergency services.
The mild winter helped keep contractors on track, but floodlights were erected to allow for work to be done throughout the night.
And by Christmas, the council’s head of highway and traffic management services, Will Britain, said work was ahead of schedule. As a result he said work would be suspended until January ‘to alleviate any noise disruption to the local residents over the Christmas holidays’.
By the middle of January, the ‘deck’ of the bridge had been removed, leaving a huge gap, with more overnight weekend work done while trains were suspended.
The bridge, built in 1931 and given its informal name when Crossley Brothers Wood Merchants was based where Poundstretcher is now, had a lifespan of 50-60 years.
Work to replace it – with Network Rail contributing £1m – is part of an £11.35m scheme to repair 10 bridges in Blackpool. Princess Street bridge, under Seasiders Way, has already been revamped, while Squires Gate Lane bridge is set for £2.5m work in the future.
Planned repair work to seven other bridges will now be as extensive, the council said.
HOW THE GAZETTE COVERED THE CLOSURE:
February 1, 2017: Remember this? Drivers reported their ‘nightmare’ after temporary traffic lights were installed at the junction of Devonshire Road and Warley Road – causing lengthy delays. The council said it was trying to improve safety there following several crashes