Chester motorists and pedestrians have been given an early Christmas present by Network Rail with the reopening of Brook Lane - almost three weeks ahead of schedule.

But everyone is reminded that this early finish is just for phase one of the bridge rebuilding project - the road is due to close again on January 3 for the second phase to get under way.

For now, though, it is smiles all round as people who are preparing to return to work and school after the half term break on Monday can look forward to using Brook Lane and what will hopefully be an easing of the dreadful congestion which has existed around the city during rush hours at the start and end of the day.

The work on Brook Lane was always due to take place in two phases but the first phase was not due to be completed until November 22 when the road was due to reopen for the rest of 2016, including the Christmas and New Year period.

Brook Lane will be subject to partial road closures as the railway bridge is demolished and constructed again
Brook Lane will be subject to partial road closures as the railway bridge is demolished and constructed again

But today (Friday, November 4) Cheshire West and Chester Council has confirmed the road has fully reopened to traffic after Network Rail managed to complete this section of the work three weeks early.

Neither CWAC nor Network Rail have so far issued a detailed statement about the development but the press offices at both organisations have agreed this is good news for Chester road users.

Brook Lane has been closed since September 19 and this has led to gridlock around the approaches to the city while work is carried out on the ageing bridge to ensure it is safe and reliable in future.

Phase two of the project will result in Brook Lane closing again from January 3-May 8.

At the time of the project getting under way, Martin Bell, scheme project manager for Network Rail, said: “This work is part of our Railway Upgrade Plan which will provide a better and more reliable railway for Britain. We recognise the work to install this new bridge will cause some disruption and thank people in advance for their patience.

“The bridge is coming to the end of its useful, safe life and to ensure the railway and road bridge continue to be safe and reliable, we have to replace it.”