M55 to Heyhouses Link Road is on track to open this year
Lancashire county councillors, Fylde borough councillors, the MP for Fylde, and representatives of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership met at the site of the M55 to Heyhouses Link Road this week for a progress update on its construction.
The road is being built to improve access between Lytham St Annes and the M55, relieve congestion on smaller local roads, and support the commercial viability of local housing and business development sites.
It is being funded thanks to contributions from the Department for Transport, National Highways, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Lancashire County Council, Fylde Borough Council, funds secured from local development, with the support of Mark Menzies MP.
The project is still on schedule with the aim of the road being open for traffic at the end of this year.
The first phase to carry out earthworks and construct drainage is making good progress, with Lancashire County Council's highways team due to start on site in the spring to begin building the top layers of the road.
The main activities currently underway are the installation of two new culverts that will support the new road over the existing drainage watercourses of Moss Sluice and Branch Drain. These are much larger structures than the ones they replace and include mammal shelves which will allow animals that move along the margins of the watercourses to safely pass under the new road.
Work has been ongoing since construction began in June 2021 to ensure the moss ground which the road is built upon is settled by preloading it with stone. This work is nearing completion with only around 400m left to cover. This will allow the final section of drainage to be finished and the verges and embankments to be covered with topsoil.
The earthworks at the southern end of the scheme have been paused over winter while the ground is saturated but are due to resume soon.
The site will become a hive of activity over the coming months as work gets underway to construct the road surface, install streetlights, utility ducting and crossing facilities for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. Once the road is open to traffic, work will continue to complete landscape planting, and turn the existing Wild Lane which runs alongside into a shared route for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.
County Councillor Rupert Swarbrick, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "The link road will make a real difference to travel in this area, particularly by ensuring the local road network can support future development and does not become too congested.
"The ground conditions in this area are quite challenging which makes it all the more pleasing that the work is progressing well and on schedule.
"It's an interesting and exciting time to visit the site with some of the larger drainage structures being installed, and the road beginning to really take shape as preparations are underway for the final phase of work to construct the upper layers of road over the coming months."
Councillor Karen Buckley, Fylde Council leader, said: "Being on site it was apparent how much preparation work has been completed and just how necessary it is given the poor ground conditions of this moss land.
"The substantial drainage works are vital to protect the infrastructure which needs to be secure to take the amount of traffic to and from the motorway. I cannot wait for the road to open and seeing it take shape today brings to life this much needed project."
Debbie Francis OBE, chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: "Backed by £5.79m of funding from the LEP’s Getting Building Fund, the M55 Heyhouses Link Road will boost the regional economy, creating more employment opportunities in and around the Fylde Coast. Once completed, it will also improve connectivity to Blackpool Airport’s Enterprise Zone, bringing additional benefits to local businesses and communities."
Mark Menzies, Member of Parliament for Fylde, said: "Congestion between Lytham St Annes and the M55 is a major issue, particularly with our growing population. Fylde has long been crying out for investment to alleviate this problem. I look forward to the road opening and serving residents and visitors for decades to come.
"Since I was elected in 2010 it has been my priority to get this road funded and built. I have been really impressed with how quickly the project has progressed in recent months. The road’s outline is now clearly visible and it is hugely exciting to see the project become a reality."