Plans to save a vital railway bridge could see a key commuter route in Westhoughton closed for NINE months, after reaching a new stage.

The bridge outside Daisy Hill station, on Leigh Road, is in "desperate" need of replacement, with work expected to take around nine months to complete.

After a long battle over the future of the bridge, a traffic order has now been released by Bolton Council ahead of the work.

Active from February 1, the order will stop all traffic from using the road to allow the bridge to be replaced.

Although the document will come into effect on February 1, ward councillor David Wilkinson believes work isn't expected to start until the summer.

He said: "I understand that some tests were carried out last Thursday and Friday to determine the depth of the services such as the telecommunication, gas, and electric lines in the bridge

"All this information will be used in the new design, taken to contractors with tenders coming back around the middle of March, and then work may start in June or July.

"It's been a bit like pulling teeth to get this far, we've constantly had to ask for information but it is a start.

"It's going to be slightly chaotic around Daisy Hill and Westhoughton whilst the bridge is closed, but it can't be used forever more in its current state because it's weak."

Whilst work is taking place, drivers will be diverted to Hartford Road, onto Hindley Road, turning onto Wearish Lane to join the A58 on Wigan Road – a 3.5 mile diversion the council claims will add ten minutes to journeys at off peak times.

Although the diversion could cause chaos for some commuters, the project is considered necessary by officials across the borough.

Cllr Wilkinson is looking for assurance that the project will be completed, even if the tenders come back over budget.

If the bridge is not repaired before it deteriorates further, it will have to be closed to all traffic until it's made safe.

The Department for Transport has set aside £3m for the project, with Bolton Council and Network Rail contributing another £250,000 each.

Originally, the bid failed to be approved, but funding was granted after the government agreed to invest £5bn in infrastructure to kickstart the economic recovery from coronavirus.