Work is to continue well into Friday morning to make safe a bridge damaged during a lorry crash.Advertisement
Update: M6 northbound reopens as lorry removed
Highways England say the bridge between Junction 33 and Junction 32 on the M6 is unsafe and the motorway in both directions remains closed.
A lorry driver lost control around 7am on Thursday (26 July) and struck the bridge.
Initially two lanes were closed southbound until an inspection of the bridge revealed the extent of the damage to it.
Lancashire Police put in place a full closure of the motorway shortly before 9am triggering traffic chaos.
The driver of the lorry was taken to hospital with minor injuries.
A combination of holidaymakers, commuters and those heading for the Kendal Calling Festival in the Lake District saw in excess of two hours added to their journey times.
Contractors are to work through the night to try to put in place a temporary structure to make the bridge safe and allow police to reopen the motorways.
Alternative routes through Preston have become gridlocked as drivers try to find a way through to Blackpool via the Docks or use the A6 to try and get up through and past Junction 33.
Police have been handing out water to those stuck in the tailbacks on the M6 and surrounding roads with temperatures pushing 30 degrees on the hottest day of the year so far.
Highways England have warned it will be a ‘protracted closure’ and are not expecting to be able to reopen the motorway until at some point on Friday.
A statement from Lancashire Police said: “We appreciate this has caused a huge amount of disruption for people and the Highways Agency and all partners are hoping to get the motorway open as soon as possible.
“The safety of the public is the priority and the Highways Agency needs to make sure that the bridge is safe before people can be allowed back on the motorway.
“A supporting structure has to be completed before the HGV which collided with the bridge can be removed. A final inspection then has to take place before people can use the carriageway again.
“Thank you to each and every one of you who has been affected for your continued patience and all the support we have received.”
Motorists are being asked either not to travel on Friday or to seek alternative routes or methods of transport.
Road users going southbound are asked to follow the “hollow diamond” diversion route:
Exit the M6 at J33,
At roundabout take the first exit to join the A6 towards Blackpool.
Follow A6 until J1 of the M55
Take the M55 eastbound to rejoin the M6 at J32.
Road users going northbound are asked to follow the “hollow circle” diversion route which is the above in reverse.
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