Traffic is due to get back to normal in the centre of Lancaster when Greyhound Bridge reopens on Sunday September 23 following a major repair scheme.
A £4m refurbishment project began in January to make sure the bridge retains the strength to carry big HGVs.
It will allow the temporary traffic system which has been in place while the Greyhound Bridge is closed, with vehicles running in both directions on Skerton Bridge, to be removed.
However, there will be some minor changes for drivers to get used to, as the Greyhound Bridge will feature a new bus-only lane when it reopens to make bus journeys quicker and more reliable.
And, while it won’t affect traffic, there will be some further work next summer to finish repainting the Greyhound Bridge.
County Coun Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “These major repairs to the Greyhound Bridge were needed to make sure we didn’t have to introduce a weight limit, and it will be many years before further maintenance is needed on this scale again.
“Closing such a major bridge is bound to cause some disruption, and we’re grateful for everyone’s patience while it has been closed, and particularly to those who have been most affected because they live, work or own businesses nearby.
“We’re looking forward to reopening the Greyhound Bridge, and would ask people to be particularly careful travelling in Lancaster city centre in the week leading up to this, as we’ll be making changes to the traffic management on the roads as we return it to normal.”
The new northbound bus-only lane will run from the bus stop on Cable Street south of the river and across Greyhound Bridge, before merging with general traffic again north of the river on Morecambe Road. Enforcement cameras will be introduced at a later date.
It will be introduced using an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order, which will allow the county council to see how well it works in live operation for up to 18 months, while carrying out public consultation about its impact.
In due course, the county council will assess the feedback received and decide whether the bus lane should be made permanent.
Work is due to resume in May 2019 to finish painting the bridge. The bridge will be kept fully open while this takes place, with only some short-term off-peak lane closures being needed to allow equipment and materials to be delivered.
The original plan was to paint the bridge during the same window as the rest of the refurbishment, but the work to restore reinforced concrete sections uncovered much worse damage than previous investigations had shown, meaning extra work was needed, and delaying the painting.
Painting the bridge during late winter is not ideal, and a decision has therefore been taken to complete the painting works in May 2019.
County Coun Iddon added: “At the moment this scheme is within budget and we want to make sure it stays that way.
“We looked carefully at the pros and cons of finishing the painting during the winter, but have decided that the risk of incurring substantial extra costs if we experienced prolonged bad weather can’t be justified, when the safe option is to complete the work next year.”
The temporary pedestrian crossing that was installed as a safety measure at the start of the works outside Our Lady’s Catholic College on Morecambe Road will now remain in place as a permanent feature, providing a much-needed safe crossing point.
Work is also planned to resurface Cable Street from Water Street and Greyhound Bridge Road.
This will take place between 7pm and 11pm from Monday September 17 to Sunday September 23.
Work to return the city centre roads to their previous layout will start on Monday September 17 with the main ‘switchover’ being carried out over the weekend of September 21/22/23.