ROAD chaos caused by rail bridge works could finally be easing for thousands of motorists after more than three months of congestion.
Two highways have now been re-opened after electrification work on the line between Chorley and Bolton meant a series of bridges had to be lifted.
Network Rail said the bridge in Stump Lane, Chorley, was finished last week and the roadblocks removed on Tuesday, a week early.
And work to replace the bridge in Rawlinson Lane, Adlington was also due to be finished on Friday – more than a fortnight ahead of schedule.
“These bridge rebuilds are an essential part of the electrification of the railway which will provide passengers with a faster, more reliable and efficient railway,” said a spokesman for Network Rail.
“The hard work and professionalism of the teams involved has meant that two are able to open quicker than planned, meaning the local roads can return to normal ahead of schedule.
“We thank local people for their patience while we complete this essential work.”
In total four bridges have been shut to allow workmen to raise them to accommodate higher electric trains on the busy rail link between Blackpool, Preston and Manchester.
But the work has come under attack from local residents and business owners who claim the closure of so many vital roads at the same time has caused a traffic nightmare in parts of Chorley, Heath Charnock, Adlington and Horwich.
One company boss, Mick Ogden, who runs a diesel repair garage in Adlington, said: “It’s been absolutely horrendous for months now. The roads round here have been gridlocked, especially in a morning and at tea-time.
“There are six bridges along a six to eight mile stretch of railway and they closed four of them all at once. In fact they shut a fifth one, but then had to re-open it within days because of the protests.
“Why have they done them all at the same time and caused all this chaos? Why couldn’t they do them one by one and that way the congestion wouldn’t have been so bad? And why have our Victorian stone bridges being replaced with concrete monstrosities?
“We think our takings are down for the months this has been going on and I’m sure a lot more businesses will have been affected the same.”
The remaining two bridges under reconstruction – in Station Road, Blackrod and Chorley Road, Heath Charnock – are on schedule to be completed on Friday (May 15) and on June 19 respectively. Work is due to take place later this year to rebuild Grimeford Lane bridge in Blackrod.