There have been many proposed roads that never came about, and some that did. One lost highway near Preston was the M59, which was meant to bypass the A59 to the south east of Preston. It would have passed to the east of Burscough Bridge and then re-joined the A59 at Much Hoole. It was also proposed the the M65 go farther east than its present terminus at the A6. However, the M55 towards Blackpool was built first.Advertisement
The bulk of the M55 was opened in 1975. Rather famously, just before opening, the M55 was used to test whether fighter aircraft could operate from roads during wartime.
Interestingly, a stump of the current Junction 1, towards Blackpool, was built as early as 1958, when the M6 opened. The M55 was proposed in the 1950s well before Beeching closed Blackpool Central Station, and made the track bed into Blackpool available for road building. The M55 had no Junction 2 until 2023, when the new Preston Western Distributor opened. Junction 2 was originally proposed as the point where the M65 would have joined the M55.
The central rail line into Blackpool closed in 1964 when Blackpool Central Station closed. Road began to replace rail and the M55 is now the main way to get from Preston to Blackpool. However, the Preston to Blackpool North rail line was eventually electrified.
The snappily named Preston Western Distributor, has recently been built and opened. The new road joins the M55 where the M65 was originally planned to end.
The new road began construction in 2019 and required a new motorway junction as well as four new bridges and a viaduct. The scheme cost £207 million and was opened in July 2023. Material dug out for the road was reused to make the embankments. This was also done when navvies were building the railways in the 19th century. Particularly the Great Harwood loop line, where all of the cuttings were at one end, and the embankments at the other end. The Savick Brook viaduct proved difficult to build. The viaduct crosses a flood plane and the piles had to be dug to a depth of 45 metres to find a solid bed for the road.
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