Bridges over the River Lune, West Coast mainline and Lancaster Canal will be the first major structures to be built as part of the Heysham M6 Link road.
Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, gave the green light for construction of the £123m, 4.8km dual carriageway road on Tuesday, following decades of controversy and debate.
Work is now scheduled to start in July, with completion due in December 2015. The project will see Morecambe, and in particular Heysham Port and Heysham Power Station, connected to the M6 motorway with a new road primarily built on open fields and greenbelt land to the north of Lancaster.
Steve McCreesh, Lancashire County Council’s project manager for the scheme, said that contractors Costain would have their main base at Halton Training Camp, in Halton Road, and would begin on a number of important elements of the project at the same time.
He said: “Two and a half years is quite a tight timescale and because of the nature of the scheme, we can’t really build it in sections so the contractor is going to start on important elements all at once.
“Costain’s main base will be on the northern side of the army camp, and a large compound will be in place there.
“The bridge over the Lune, about 80m west of the existing motorway bridge, will take about two years to build, and there will be very big cranes to lift in beams and there will be a lot of piling and foundation work there. There will be closures of both Halton Road and Foundry Lane of around three to four months each, but not at the same time, and there will also be a temporary diversion, and brief closure, of Kellet Lane.”
Some work around Morecambe Road will also take place during the early phases of the project.
Mr McCreesh said that Costain has banned construction traffic from travelling through Halton village, and a temporary access road from the motorway would be used to transport equipment and materials onto the Lune bridge site, avoiding local roads.
Once the bridge is built, construction traffic would use the signed route from Caton Road through Lancaster to get to the other side of Halton Road.
Mr McCreesh said that another key structure would be the bridge over the Lancaster Canal, just north of Hamilton Hall Lane near Torrisholme.
“It will be an arch construction bridge to fit in with all the other canal bridges, and then there is the bridge over the railway line, north of Barley Cop Lane,” he said.
“The railway bridge needs to be finished by the summer of 2014, so that large vehicles carrying a lot of excavated muck will be able to go straight down the route of the road, over a temporary canal bridge, as opposed to on local roads.”
The connection to the motorway is due to be built later on in the scheme.
“There will also be a short term closure of Torrisholme Road so that the bridge beams can be dropped in.
“This is something that we’ll consulting on, to find out whether people would prefer us to do it overnight or on a weekend.”
Mr McCreesh said that with regards to concerns about otters on the river Lune, surveys would be carried out closer to the construction time and if female otters with pups were found, construction could be delayed until they move on. The road will also pass through what is currently Broadoak Leisure in Torrisholme Road.
Mr McCreesh said that the land where Broadoak is situated had been owned by Lancashire County Council since 1965 and rented to the business on the understanding that all of it would be required for the road. The road will cover just over 75 per cent of the Broadoak site.
The county council will now implement compulsory acquisition powers, where it will write to landowners to inform them of compulsory purchases.