Crossley’s Bridge will close on Monday for an estimated six months, leaving motorists braced for traffic misery.
Layton will lose its number nine bus service, the ambulance service says emergency response times could be almost doubled as paramedics follow diversions, and drivers have voiced their own concern, but Blackpool Council said the bridge, in Plymouth Road, needs to be replaced because it’s rotting.
The £6.1m scheme, which will also see the bridge raised to allow for electrification works on the railway line below, should be finished by Easter – weather permitting.
Coun Fred Jackson, the town hall’s highways boss, said: “This investment is imperative and without it we would have to close the road for good, which is simply not an option.”
A temporary wooden footbridge, suitable for pedestrians and dismounted cyclist has already been erected beside the current bridge. It is lit, covered by CCTV cameras, and has utility cables and pipes running alongside it.
And in recent weeks, contractors have been demolishing what they could of the bridge while keeping it open, with the side closest to B&Q already taken down via crane.
The council said the upcoming closure was timed to start when the Illuminations end, which they do this weekend, so the work could be done when the roads are quiet.
Potholes on the diversion route, including on Warley Road, have been fixed in advance, while temporary measures designed to keep traffic flowing include the tweaking of 19 nearby traffic signals, temporary double yellow lines close to Unity Academy to widen the road for the emergency services, and buses using parking bays to stop in Layton rather the road like they currently do.
Drivers travelling from Fleetwood, Cleveleys and Bispham to Blackpool will be diverted down Warbreck Hill Road, Devonshire Road, Talbot Road, and Westcliffe Drive, and vice versa.
Once the bridge is rebuilt, with the plaque from the old one reused, work will be done over next summer to move the utility connections back underneath the new bridge, and the temporary footbridge will be removed.
Ideas to improve the traffic flow around the area are also being looked at, the council added.