The first chunk of the M6 had opened in 1958 as the Preston by-pass and, two years later, the road also passed by Lancaster with a junction (close to Halton) with the Caton Road into the city.
Despite the M6's taking through traffic from the centre of the City, the easiest route from Lancaster to Morecambe and Heysham, for example, was across the A6 Skerton Bridge. And, as might be expected, it steadily got busier and busier as the years rolled by.
The rescue for Lancaster's traffic began, oddly, way back when the Morecambe Harbour and Railway Company opened a line from Lancaster Green Ayre Station ...
The line was "wired" in 1908 as a test bed for further Midland Railway electrification.
The present "Greyhound" Bridge was opened in 1911, being the third on the site; ere a picture of the demolition of the second bridge.
After the Beeching Axe fell, it eventually became a road (re-opening in 1972) to bring much-needed relief to the Skerton Bridge.
The Council examined several do-nothing options:-
The bridge has been the subject of general inspections every two years since 1995. Based on the current rate of deterioration the following restrictions would be required to be implemented:
2018 – closed to abnormal loads
2020 – closed to all HGVs, implement weight restrictions
and permits for fire engines
2029 – bridge closed to all vehicles
These were not realistic options for such an important link, so funding was obtained to make substantial structural repairs and strengthening,
Outline of the scheme
The total estimated cost of the works is around £4 million. The proposed work comprises replacement or renewal of a number of features including:
Temporary traffic management
Concrete repairs, inc. installation of galvanic cathodic protection
and recasting of large areas at the joint positions
Replacement of buried joints
Replacement of expansion joints
Repainting of parapet, piers and superstructure
Carriageway and footway resurfacing
Maintenance repairs to two adjacent bridges and a sign gantry
Everybody needs some galvanic cathodic protection!
So the bridge is closed for six months. Understandably this has caused significant disruption to traffic and public transport; and it is the latter that we will look at tomorrow.
Cue Stagecoach in Lancaster ...