So much has changed over past few years in Blackpool

The completion of work to repair Devonshire Road Bridge will mark the end of an £11m investment programme to upgrade bridges across Blackpool.

Friday, 7th September 2018, 5:37 pm
Updated Friday, 7th September 2018, 5:41 pm
The £100m central sea defences and Promenade with six headlands was finished in 2010 although further work to resurface areas of the new seafront was carried out later

But it is just one of a series of major infrastructure projects to have taken place in the resort over the last few years.

From tram tracks to train lines, sea defences to sewers, Blackpool has seen massive injections of cash into its urban fabric.

Many of the schemes are not particularly glamorous, such as filling in pot-holes, yet they are essential to the smooth operation of the town.

Some work has been necessary to replace engineering systems that are over 80 years old.

It has also meant rarely a year has gone by without some kind of disruption, with key roads closed, tram services suspended, and parts of the seafront off-limits for some periods of time.

Coun Fred Jackson, the council’s roads boss, said: “All through the town we have got development taking place, and things being renewed and revived, which is good for Blackpool.

“Most recently, we have seen the bridge programme come to an end. We have renewed 10 bridges that were in danger of crumbling, perhaps with disastrous effect, so this work is essential to our town.

“Project 30, which began under another administration, has worked well for the town and as a council we know good infrastructure must be at the forefront of what we are doing.

“Credit must go to outside bodies as well. For example, we have seen a tremendous amount of work done in the town by United Utilities.

“They have spent a lot of money in Blackpool. After years of receiving criticism over the quality of the bathing water, for the last two years we have had a prestigious Blue Flag.”

Not everything has gone smoothly, with disruption to rail services and problems with some of the new sea defences attracting criticism this year.

And there is still plenty to be done. More work is scheduled for Yeadon Way while Talbot Road has been dug up to extend the tramway to Blackpool North station.

But a list of 10 key infrastructure projects completed since 2010 indicates just how much change Blackpool has seen in recent years.

10 key projects completed since 2010

1 The £100m central sea defences and Promenade with six headlands was finished in 2010 although further work to resurface areas of the new seafront was carried out later.

2 Project 30 was launched in 2011. The five-year scheme saw £30m invested in repairing pot-holes on main roads throughout the town. In total 40 miles of carriageway and footway was repaired.

3 The £100m upgrade of the tramway was completed in 2012 with the new service launching at Easter that year with 16 modern Flexity trams. At one point the future of the historic line was under threat due to the deterioration of the track. The tram track is now being extended on Talbot Road (see pic)

4 In 2014 Yeadon Way, the main route into the town centre from the M55, was closed for several months for a £3.6m investment to strengthen the carriageway and the embankments supporting it.

5 The £11m bridge repair programme began in 2015 and was completed in August 2018. Some bridges were more than 80 years old and in urgent need of attention. Princess Street, Squires Gate, Harrowside, Crossley’s Bridge and Devonshire Road Bridge are among the structures which have been repaired.

6 Water company United Utilities began a £100m upgrade of sewers and drains across Blackpool in 2015 which includes a new pumping station being built at Anchorsholme Park. New pipes and a pumping station have also been installed in South Shore between 2017 and 2018 to replace an 80-year-old waterworks system.

7 Another £13m has been invested by United Utilities in a three-year project to upgrade 17km of water pipes to improve tap water for 50,000 homes. in Blackpool.

8 Engineering work saw the railway line between Blackpool and Preston electrified between November last year and spring this year. Computerised signals were also installed. The investment is part of the £1bn-plus Great North Rail Project.

9 In 2017 Cadent, formerly National Grid, began replacing 80km of gas pipes around Blackpool. It is part of a £77.5m project to upgrade 500km of ageing pipes in the North West during 2017 and 2018, but Blackpool has seen more pipework replaced than anywhere else in the region.

10 Earlier this year saw the completion of a £27m project to replace the sea defences at Anchorsholme.