|Existed: 1958 – present|
West end: Blackpool
Length 19.6 km
Connects to M6 motorway
|East end: Fulwood, Lancashire|
Primary destinations: Preston
|History: Preston bypass opened in 1958, remainder in 1975|
The M55 is a motorway in Lancashire, England, which can also be referred to as the Preston Northern Bypass. It connects the seaside resort of Blackpool to the M6 at Preston. It is 12.2 miles (19.6 km) in length.
Map of M55, Preston PR4, UK
The M55 has three lanes in both directions for most of its length. After leaving the M6 at junction 32, the road immediately interchanges with the A6. It then crosses the West Coast Main Line and Lancaster Canal before passing north of Wesham to meet the A585 at junction 3. It then continues west in a rural setting to meet junction 4, where the motorway ends and becomes the A5230. The western part of the M55, and the first few hundred metres of the A5230, occupy the route of the old Blackpool Branch railway line.
The first motorway constructed in Great Britain was the M6 Preston Bypass, opened in 1958. This ran from the current M6 junction 29 to the M55 junction 1. It was built as a 2 lane route. In 1965 the M6 was extended north from what is the current day junction 32 to meet the Lancaster Bypass, and the M6 junction was rebuilt to its current design to connect the A6 at the now M55 junction 1. Due to increasing traffic, it was decided to provide a motorway link to Blackpool and this road was opened in 1975.
Some of the material for backfilling the new M55 was obtained from a nearby disused airfield at RNAS Inskip, where the runways were broken up and the land returned to agriculture. More material came from the Tootle Heights quarries in Longridge.
The motorway has no Junction 2. A proposed South Ribble link road would have involved the extension of the M65 motorway around the west of Preston to link to the M55 at the missing junction. The link road proposal has been dormant since the mid-1990s. Between 1993 and 1995, the M6 around the east of Preston was widened to four lanes, making the link road proposal less likely.
As part of a City Deal signed between Preston City Council and central Government in late 2013, both Lancashire County Council and Preston City Council agree in principle to build a 'Preston Western Distributor Road' which would link the A583/A584 outside Clifton to a new Junction 2 of the M55.
Aircraft test landing
During construction of the M55, the Jaguar military aircraft from nearby Warton Aerodrome made a test landing on the motorway, in order to prove its capability to use makeshift runways in time of war.
Data from driver location signs are used to provide distance and carriageway identifier information.