PART of a road is set to close for several weeks to allow bridge repair works to go ahead.

A SECTION of St James Street in Burnley will be shut off where it crosses the River Calder, near the junction with Queen's Lancashire Way, Active Way and Westgate from April 6 until the middle of August.

A major project is taking place to strengthen the bridge, known as The Brig, which will ensure heavy vehicles can continue to use it.

St James Street is a direct route into the town centre and the strengthening works will ensure that it can continue to support the local economy by ensuring good access for vehicles.

To avoid further disruption, work to improve the major route into the town centre will take place at the same time.

Lancashire County Council is working with Burnley Council to develop new wider footways and carriageway along St James Street, between Westgate and Hammerton Street.

The improvement works are the final phase of the Burnley town centre public realm scheme, and have been designed to match the high standards set in the rest of the town centre, using high quality natural materials and street furniture.

The scheme also includes some widening of the footway where possible, to enhance the overall experience for pedestrians and shoppers.

Burnley Council has said the public realm works may last longer than the bridge repairs but will not require further road closures, apart from when carriageway re-surfacing work is carried out.

Cllr Gordon Birtwistle, the borough council’s executive member for economy and growth, said: “St James Street is a major gateway into the town centre and these works will ensure that not only does it stay open for business as far as delivery and other heavier vehicles are concerned, but it will look the part as well.

“Further along St James Street the improvements to the pedestrianised area look great and present a clean, attractive, modern look to shoppers and visitors.

"At the time the work was done people asked when St James Street was going to get the same treatment and here it is.”

The work will enhance wider investment in the development of a heritage action zone in St James Street.

The bridge works involve replacing modern concrete and stone on either side of the original masonry arches to ensure the bridge retains the strength to support the road and the heavy vehicles which use it.

While St James Street is closed at one end a diversion will be in place for vehicles via Active Way, Royle Road, and Brown Street, with a shorter diversion for pedestrians via Active Way, Orchard Bridge and Calder Street.

The one-way system on lower Brown Street, between its junctions with Brick Street and St James Street, will temporarily be reversed to allow a circulatory system to operate.

Buses will continue to operate as normal, however two bus stops will be relocated from St James Street to Bethesda Street.

The county council has already written to nearby businesses to make them aware of the work.

County Cllr Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "Our surveys have shown that the widenings on either side of The Brig need to be replaced to ensure the bridge retains its strength and prevent the need to introduce a limit on the weight of vehicles using it.

"We're sorry for any disruption to businesses and people working and visiting this area, but it's essential that we close part of St James Street so that it can be carried out safely.

"We're grateful for people's patience while this vital work takes place."