27/11/14

Construction of the Heysham to M6 Link Road is entering a significant new phase with major feats of engineering due to take place in the coming months to bridge a river, canal, railway and roads.

Work began at the weekend and will be completed by Saturday 6 December to lift into place the beams for the Folly Railway Bridge, which will take the link road over the West Coast Mainline railway. Special permission has been needed to close the railway line, one of the busiest in the country, to allow the work to take place safely.

In January 2015 pre cast concrete arches will be lifted into place for Milestone Canal Bridge. The new bridge will take the link road across the Lancaster Canal north of Hammerton Hall Lane. For a short period the arch of the bridge which spans 30 metres, will be the longest pre cast unsupported arch in the UK.

And the most eye-catching part of the whole link road project will begin in March 2015 to create a new bridge across the River Lune. This will see a huge 1,200 tonne crane being built to lift into place the massive steel beams for the bridge which will carry the new road over the Lune.

Work has been underway since construction of the new road began in January 2014 on 7 out of the 11 major structures needed in total to take the link road over and under existing infrastructure. So far more than 1m cubic metres of earth has been moved during construction of the road.

County Councillor John Fillis, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "It's great to see such good progress being made on the Heysham to M6 Link Road.

"The first phase of the project has focused on major earthworks and it's exciting that we'll soon see the bridges being constructed and the road really begin to take shape.

"The link road will be an engine for economic growth across the region and a number of companies have reported that they're already investing to ensure they're ready to take advantage of better connections when the road is completed in summer 2016."

Andrew Langley, Costain project director, said: "The good weather this summer has helped us to make good progress with the earthworks and we're looking forward to the next phase of the project.

"One of the biggest engineering challenges of the Heysham to M6 Link Road project is the number of structures needed and we're really starting to progress well on them."

Vicky Lofthouse, manager of Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce, added: "All the construction activity in the district is having a positive effective on businesses confidence, and has activated a series of enquiries from companies interested in locating in our area.

"We recognise that there has been disruption to businesses on a day to day basis but hope this will lessen, given the end of the final phase of the United Utilities works in Lancaster City Centre.

"We look forward to watching our local infrastructure change for the better over the coming months and hope even more organisations come forward as a result."

The new £124.5m link road will connect the Heysham peninsula directly to the M6, providing better access to Morecambe and industrial areas which include the Port of Heysham and the Heysham power stations. It will also reduce congestion in the Lancaster area especially on Caton Road, Morecambe Road and the Greyhound and Skerton bridges.

The port, the third largest in the North West, is developing as a hub for services to Ireland. It is the supply base for major offshore gas field and wind farms.

The main part of the scheme involves constructing a 4.8km dual carriageway from the A589 between Morecambe and Lancaster to an upgraded Junction 34 on the M6, with additional measures to improve transport in Lancaster City.