PICTURES: Crossley's Bridge update and latest on Â£7m town centre road overhaul
If there was a runaway bus unable to go less than 50mph, it'd make for a decent stunt jump '“ because the middle of Crossley's Bridge has been removed.
Contractors working to replace the bridge have removed the deck, and allowed The Gazette access to take pictures yesterday afternoon.
Meanwhile, town hall officials have confirmed work is on schedule and going as well as hoped – offering motorists frustrated at getting stuck in diversion jams hope the bridge will be reopen by Easter.
The bridge, a main arterial route linking Blackpool and Bispham, Cleveleys, and Fleetwood, has been closed since early November when the Illuminations ended.
It needed to be replaced because it was rotting, the council said, or face being shut altogether. The bridge is also being heightened so Network Rail, which has contributed a chunk of the £6.1m bill, can carry out electrification work.
The closure has seen queues on and around Devonshire Road during the morning and evening rush hours, with the ambulance service voicing concern of six- minute delays in emergencies.
The council introduced several traffic measures and, aside from the first few days of the closure, only accidents have resulted in severe delays.
The council’s head of highway and traffic management services, Will Britain, told nearby residents in December work on the bridge was going ‘very well’, and announced it should be partially reopen by Friday, April 7.
But residents were warned work will be done overnight from this month – with trains between Blackpool North and Layton suspended – on five weekends: January 21/22, 28/29, and February 4/5, 11/12, and 25/26.
“From Monday, March 6, we aim to be working within normal working hours, between 7am and 7pm Monday to Friday,” Mr Britain added.
£7M FACELIFT ON KEY RESORT ROADS TO START ON MONDAY - BUT THERE WILL BE ‘YEARS OF DISRUPTION’
A £6.6m grant – and a £740,000 contribution from the council – will see roads in Blackpool town centre given a facelift.
The ‘quality corridors’ project, aimed at improving roads welcoming visitors to the resort, will begin on Monday.
It is also hoped the programme will also work with local businesses to improve shop fronts through a new grant scheme.
Pedestrian links between bus, tram, and rail services will also be upgraded.
Work will start on Church Street, between Leopold Grove and Regent Road, with the 12-week project seeing the road resurfaced, pavements upgraded, better seating, and a designated taxi rank.
The road will close between 7pm and 6am from Monday, March 27 and Sunday, April 9.
During that time, Topping Street, King Street, South King Street, Alfred Street, and Leopold Grove will be made two-way temporarily.
Work on the footpaths will take place between this Monday and Sunday, March 26. Work will be done outside St John’s School during the February half-term.
Other roads earmarked for improvement are Cookson Street, Dickson Road, Deansgate, Edward Street, Topping Street, and Talbot Road.
Traders in Cookson Street, working in the shadow of the multi-million pound Talbot Gateway regeneration project last month said they had seen little difference following the council’s investment.
But Coun Fred Jackson, the council’s cabinet member for highways, yesterday said this latest announcement will provide a boost for businesses.
He said: “We know that a strong economy is linked to a good road network, helping visitors come in to the town centre and making it easier for businesses to carry out their daily operations.
“Quite a number of the entrances into Blackpool could do with a bit of a facelift, to make sure that when people come in to the town centre they are seeing welcoming streets and vibrant businesses.
“With the tramway extension and second phase of the Central Business District on the way, the level of investment being pumped into Blackpool at the moment will have a real driving force on our local economy, creating jobs, putting money in the pocket of local residents and creating a Blackpool that all of us can be proud of.
“As this is work on important roads, there will be disruption at points over the next few years, however we will aim to keep that to a minimum and I hope people will understand how this work will benefit the town in the long run.”