Opening of the M55 to Heyhouses Link Road delayed by ‘excessive rainfall’

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The opening of a major new road on the Fylde coast has been delayed by flooding.

The route - known as the Heyhouses Link Road - is being built to improve access between Lytham St Annes and the M55 and relieve congestion on smaller local roads.

Work on the multi-million pound scheme began back in June 2021 and the first vehicles had been expected to travel along its length by the end of the year.

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However, Lancashire County Council highways bosses have now said that the connection - between the existing roundabout at Whitehills Road to the north and Heyhouses Lane, near the Cypress Point development site, to the south - will not open until next spring.

New kerbs and streetlights where the link road ties into the existing Lytham St Annes Way at Cypress PointNew kerbs and streetlights where the link road ties into the existing Lytham St Annes Way at Cypress Point
New kerbs and streetlights where the link road ties into the existing Lytham St Annes Way at Cypress Point

The final phase of work to construct the top layers of the road is now under way, 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.

That meant the main contractor was unable to complete a number of structures to the originally-expected timeline.

Earthworks and construction of the necessary drainage infrastructure is now due to be completed around the end of this month - around eight weeks later than scheduled.

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The delay 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 asphalt can't be laid in poor weather.

County Cllr Rupert Swarbrick, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, said that the link road “will make a real difference to travel in this area”.

He added: “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.

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"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.

"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."

As well as improving journey times, the project is designed to ensure the commercial viability of local housing and business development sites in the area.

Recent work at the site has focused on completing structures needed to control water, including culverts, ditches, pipework, manholes and drainage attenuation tanks.

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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.