Construction of the M55 to Heyhouses Link Road is making good progress, however a number of issues over recent months mean it is now scheduled to open in spring 2024.
The new road is being built to improve access between Lytham St Annes and the M55, relieve congestion on smaller local roads, and support the commercial viability of local housing and business development sites.
It will connect the existing roundabout at Whitehills Road to the north with Heyhouses Lane near the Cypress Point development site to the south, providing much better access between the M55 motorway and existing employment areas in Lytham and St Annes, with the improved link to the coast also supporting the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone and the area’s vital leisure and tourism industry.
Work started in June 2021, with the road originally being scheduled to open towards the end of this year.
The final phase to build the top layers of the road is now underway, but completion of the initial earthworks phase has been delayed by excessive rainfall which flooded part of the site and surrounding area earlier this summer, with the main contractor unable to complete the preloading and building of structures to the original timeline for the new link road.
The earthworks, and construction of drainage infrastructure, is now due to be completed around the end of September, 2 months later than originally scheduled.
This has had a knock-on impact on the rest of the project, with construction of the upper layers of the road now due to take place during the winter, and expected to take longer as a result because some activities such as laying asphalt can’t be carried out in poor weather.
Despite this the road is beginning to take its final shape, with kerbing now being laid from the southern (Cypress Point) end of the scheme by Lancashire County Council’s highways team who are constructing the final phase, following on from the earthworks and drainage work carried out by contractor Duo.
County Councillor Rupert Swarbrick, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “The link road will make a real difference to travel in this area and construction is progressing well, however a number of issues over recent months have set back the opening date until spring next year.
“The ground where the road is being built is naturally quite wet, which is why so much of the construction schedule has been devoted to ensuring we have the infrastructure in place to control water flow and drainage to prevent the road from flooding.
“Unfortunately, we had so much rain earlier this summer that the groundworks phase could not progress at the rate we had planned for, with the contractor also advising of construction difficulties relating to the structures and drainage which have set back their original schedule. This has had a knock-on impact on the next phase of work to construct the upper layers of the road.
“The good news is that the drainage work is nearly complete, with the final phase of construction now well underway, and we can see the road beginning to take its final form as the kerbs are laid.”
Recent work at the site has focused on completing structures needed to control water, such as culverts, ditches, pipework, manholes and drainage attenuation tanks. The drainage ditches and grass swales around the site will also provide a habitat for wildlife as part of the scheme’s ecological mitigation measures. Work has also begun to construct a bridleway on the line of the original North Houses Lane which will connect into existing bridleways and provide a route for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians along the whole length of the new road.