TRAFFIC chaos on a Blackburn town centre road will continue for days after tram tracks and a service pit were unexpectedly discovered under the highway surface.
Work at the Salford end of Railway Road was due to fin-ish by the weekend, but then the 70-year-old iron rails and 10ft by 6ft underground chamber were discovered.
They were part of the last tram route in the borough from The Boulevard terminus to the Intack shed, which closed on September 3, 1949, to make way for buses.
The work was the final stage of digging connected with the £30m Cathedral Quarter, which started in November after closing the old bus station and moving stops to a temporary site on the old three-day market. It involved the third set of temporary traffic lights on Railway Road starting by the railway station, moving to opposite the Adelphi pub and Morrisons, then to the Salford end.
The work is to allow the highway to be dug up to divert services such as gas and electricity mains, sewers and water mains off the construction site.
The latest unexpected discovery has led to the digging of a 35 yard-long trench, pushing the temporary traffic lights back beyond the Adelphi side of the pedestrian crossing.
It also required widening the road works to accommodate a mechanical digger.
Tory highways spokesman Alan Cottam said: “They should have seen this coming. There are tram tracks below the road surface all over Blackburn.
“The council should not be saying the road will reopen by the weekend and on Monday be digging a huge trench.”
Borough regeneration boss Maureen Bateson said: “While we were aware tram lines were present, their exact location could not be determined fully until we dug down as there are no historic plans for the area.
“A chamber under the old tramlines, at the junction with Morrisons, has been discovered. We think this would have been a service chamber for trams.
“We apologise for the disruption to the travelling public, and we hope this will be resolved in the next few days.”