Drivers in Lancashire are being advised a section of motorway will close for a weekend in the new year as part of a major road project.

A new junction – the ‘missing’ junction two – is currently being built along the M55 as part of the wider Preston Western Distributor Road (PWDR) build and an old footbridge over the motorway near the new junction will need to be removed before the project can be completed.

To allow the footbridge to be removed safely, the motorway will be closed in both directions between junction one at Broughton and junction three at Kirkham from 8pm on Friday January 21 until 6am on Monday January 24.

The motorway will re-open sooner if the work goes smoothly.

Lancashire County Council and main contractor Costain are delivering the wider PWDR scheme and are building the new junction for National Highways.

Brian Smith, senior project manager for National Highways, said: “The new motorway junction is a vital component of the PWDR project, supporting the local economy and relieving congestion at other junctions along the motorway.

“We’ve been working closely with the county council and Costain to keep drivers on the move along the M55 during the junction build but next month’s carriageway closure is needed to ensure the bridge can be removed safely.”

The motorway closure will be subject to a final weather check and a clearly-signed diversion will be in place throughout the weekend.

Drivers heading westbound will need to take the southbound A6 Garstang Road from junction one - joining the westbound A5085 and A583 Blackpool Road and A583 Kirkham Bypass before heading northbound up the A585 Fleetwood Road to re-join the M55 at junction three.

Drivers heading eastbound away from Blackpool will use the same route.

Over the weekend, M6 to M55 access will only be available from the northbound M6.

With the southbound M6 to M55 link road closed drivers on the southbound M6 seeking to join the M55 to get to junction one and or join the diversion route will need to do so via the northbound M6 from junction 31.

Drivers planning to travel between Blackpool and Preston over the weekend when the motorway is closed are being advised to plan their journeys, check traffic conditions before setting out and use alternative routes if possible.

Live traffic information is always available at or from National Highways’ 24-7 customer contact centre at 0300 123 5000.

Confirmation that the weekend closure is going ahead, as well as any updates on the re-opening time, will be posted to @HighwaysNWest – National Highways’ regional Twitter feed.

Work on the new motorway junction has been going on since the Preston Western Distributor (PWD) project started in October 2019.

The new road and motorway link are due to open in early 2023.

The new junction is being constructed between Swillbrook and Higher Bartle.

It is being delivered as part of the £207million Preston Western Distributor partnership project led by Lancashire County Council.

As part of special ‘designated’ funds to support the generation of new jobs and building of new homes, National Highways, which operates the M55, is contributing £25million.

The PWD scheme is being constructed on the west side of the city from the M55 motorway to a new junction with Blackpool Road at Lea.

Funding for these new roads is coming from the Department for Transport and the Lancashire Growth Deal, managed by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.

Further funding comes from National Highways and the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal.

The Preston Western Distributor is the biggest new road programme in the City Deal.

City Deal is an agreement between the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and Preston City Council, South Ribble Borough Council and Lancashire County Council, along with central government and Homes England.

The City Deal will help to deliver new infrastructure, new homes and more jobs over the next ten years.

It will help to create more than 20,000 new private sector jobs and see over 17,000 new homes built across the area, along with new school places, open green spaces and new health provision to cater for the growing population.

More information, including details of the motorway closure diversion routes is available on the PWD webpage.