MOTORISTS and shoppers are preparing themselves for months of disruption as work begins on an integral rail project.
The Tithebarn Street bridge, which links Poulton to Carleton, will be closed from today until May 22 to allow engineers to electrify the line between Blackpool North and Poulton stations.
The Network Rail-led project will focus on re-structuring the bridge, removing the road surface and installing new beams.
This project, to allow the electrical cables to be installed and eventually provide a faster and efficient west coast service, has already raised concerns residents and traders in the two towns will be affected when motorists are prevented crossing the bridge.
A number of diversions will be put in place from today to help traffic flow in and out of Poulton while a pedestrian footbridge has already been constructed.
Leslie Middleton, chairman of Poulton and Carleton Residents Association, says people will cope the best they can with the changes.
She said: “Everyone is still apprehensive about this but we will wait and see how it goes.
“Network Rail originally said they might not need to close the bridge off all the time but the worst case scenario is not having a pedestrian crossing.
“The crossing is going to be used while the bridge is closed and for those people who live within walking distance of it will be a real bonus for them.”
Keith Lumley, a spokesman for Network Rail, added: “We have undertaken a traffic impact assessment and trialled traffic management to safely manage traffic flow on the diversionary route.
“Part of the diversion route is via Carleton level crossing off Blackpool Road, to manage traffic flow safely across the level crossing, traffic lights will be in use and traffic management staff will be on site during peak hours.”
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council added: “We were consulted about the traffic flow by Network Rail.
“The diversion which has been agreed is the most suitable solution while this work takes place.”