TRAFFIC mayhem is predicted when a key gateway to Wigan’s busiest industrial estate is closed for the summer.
Network Rail has to completely rebuild a road bridge over the railway which will sever the highway for up to four months.
The move will mean fleets of juggernauts currently using Wigan Road and Bryn Road to access the South Lancs Industrial Estate will have to find an alternative route.
And the 600-plus staff at the DWP’s giant Griffin House benefits processing centre will also soon face a different commute to work.
Bryn councillor Gary Wilkes is now seeking a meeting with highways chiefs because he is “very worried” about the traffic congestion that an unsatisfactory diversion could cause to an already congested Ashton.
Sources claim that initially railway infrastructure company Network Rail had been considering digging out the ballast to lower the tracks under the bridge to create space for the overhead electric wires as part of the recently announced North West electrification programme.
But investigations have concluded that it would be even more time-consuming. Network Rail says it is currently finalising plans and the timescale for the works has yet to be predicted.
But in an email from council highways network co-ordinator Tony Hemingway in the possession of the Post, he warns that the road closure will run from Monday, June 3 to Monday, September 9. The diversion route for access on the east side of the bridge will be Wigan Road, Bolton Road and Bryn Road South.
Mr Hemingway wrote: “The road will need a complete closure whilst the operation is undertaken although access will be available for pedestrians at all times because we can accommodate a temporary bridge.
“I accept this work is going to cause disruption around the area however after meeting with Network Rail with our Bridges Section we concluded that there is no other reasonable option.”
Coun Wilkes said: “I have asked for a meeting, as I feel some areas will be used by businesses as rat runs. Nicol Road, for example, has a 20mph speed limit but I am very worried that most people will abuse this if it is not protected. The Bryn area I feel will be gridlocked during this time and hopefully a meeting with councillors will help relieve concerns.”
A Network Rail spokesman said today it is currently finalising a plan for modification works to facilitate the necessary clearances required for the new overhead line equipment.
He said: “Throughout this process, we continue to work closely with the local authority, highways agency and other key stakeholder groups, helping to manage, mitigate and communicate any potential disruption.
“A final decision on the actual programme of work at Bryn Road will be made and communicated to stakeholders in the next few weeks.”
The £400m electrification programme is aimed at improving travel between Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and Blackpool, providing a “faster, quieter, more reliable and sustainable railway” with additional trains and more seats for passengers.