AS the first phase of work along one of Wigan’s busiest commuter routes gets under way motorists get a taste of things to come.
Drivers heading in and out of Wigan along Bolton Road, Atherton, will be faced with delays from now until February 2012 while National Rail carry out essential work on the railway bridge.
And this week the first part of the work to install a footbridge got under way.
The work will cause huge delays and disruptions for commuters during its duration, but National Rail bosses hope that the footbridge will help to avoid any problems for pedestrians who use the route.
The disruptions during the first phase will be minor in comparison to the main section of work, which will see a section of Bolton Road closed completely to vehicles for almost three months from September 13 to December 3.
The main body of the work will see the railway bridge completely rebuilt after assessments showed that the damage to the current bridge structure was so bad that strengthening would not be sufficient.
Wigan Council and Network Rail both say the disruption cannot be avoided because some parts of the bridge are so badly corroded that urgent attention is required.
Wigan Council’s streetworks co-ordinator, Tony Hemingway, said: “We take very seriously the safety of all road users and residents in the area and that is why we will have to close the bridge for repairs.
“We will be using local diversions as well as the A-road alternatives which we are obliged to promote.
“There will also be a new temporary pedestrian footbridge to ensure the community can still access local services.”
The repairs to the bridge east of Atherton station are scheduled to take eight months to complete.
The closure is yet another blow to road users who have been faced with a series of major roadworks along commuter routes already this year, including improvements to the Saddle Junction which started recently.
Other major disruptions have been seen along Chorley Street, Standish, following the closure of Rectory Lane and work to transform Wallgate in Wigan town centre has also been a source of problems.