The M55 will shut today (Friday, January 21) and will remain closed over the weekend between Preston and Kirkham.
The motorway will close both ways from 8pm on Friday until 6am on Monday (January 24) for ongoing works on the Preston Western Distributor Road (PWDR) project.
A new junction – the ‘missing’ junction 2 – is currently being built along the M55 as part of the wider PWDR build and an old footbridge over the motorway near the new junction will need to be removed before the project can be completed.
To allow the footbridge to be demolished safely, the motorway will be closed in both directions between junction 1 at Broughton and junction 3 at Kirkham.
The M55 will close both ways from 8pm on Friday until 6am on Monday (January 24) for ongoing works on the Preston Western Distributor Road (PWDR) project
Drivers planning to travel between Blackpool and Preston over the weekend when the motorway is closed are being advised to plan their journeys, check traffic conditions before setting out and use alternative routes if possible.
But National Highways said the motorway might reopen sooner if the work goes smoothly and is completed ahead of schedule.
Westbound – Drivers heading westbound will need to take the southbound A6 Garstang Road from junction 1 – joining the westbound A5085 and A583 Blackpool Road and A583 Kirkham Bypass before heading northbound up the A585 Fleetwood Road to re-join the M55 at junction 3.
A new junction – the ‘missing’ junction 2 – is currently being built along the M55 as part of the wider PWDR build and an old footbridge over the motorway near the new junction will need to be removed before the project can be completed
Eastbound – Drivers heading eastbound away from Blackpool will use the same route.
How to access M6
Over the weekend, M6 to M55 access will only be available from the northbound M6.
With the southbound M6 to M55 link road closed, drivers on the southbound M6 seeking to join the M55 to get to junction 1 and/ or join the diversion route will need to do so via the northbound M6 from junction 31.
What is the new M55 junction?
Work on the new M55 junction started in October 2019 and the new road and motorway link are due to open in early 2023.
Brian Smith, senior project manager for National Highways, said: “The new motorway junction is a vital component of the PWDR project, supporting the local economy and relieving congestion at other junctions along the motorway.
“We’ve been working closely with the county council and Costain to keep drivers on the move along the M55 during the junction build but next month’s carriageway closure is needed to ensure the bridge can be removed safely.”
He added that the motorway closure will be subject to a final weather check and a clearly-signed diversion will be in place throughout the weekend.
What is the Preston Western Distributor?
The PWD scheme is being constructed on the west side of Preston from the M55 motorway to a new junction with Blackpool Road at Lea.
Funding for these new roads is coming from the Department for Transport and the Lancashire Growth Deal, managed by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.
A new junction 2 is being constructed between Swillbrook and Higher Bartle, as part of the £207 million Preston Western Distributor partnership project led by Lancashire County Council.
As part of special ‘designated’ funds to support the generation of new jobs and building of new homes, National Highways, which operates the M55, is contributing £25 million.
Further funding comes from National Highways and the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, with the PWD the biggest new road programme in the City Deal.