FAILED BEARINGS this week led to the partial closure of the M6 Thelwall viaduct in Cheshire. Highways Agency inspection teams have been sent to the site to assess the damage after a routine inspection last week revealed that one of the four, 1m long, 356mm diameter high tensile steel bearings had failed. The other three bearings on the 39 year old structure also show signs of deterioration. Once a comprehensive diagnosis of the busy motorway crossing has been completed, the scale and nature of works will be decided. Traffic flow over the Manchester Ship Canal crossing has been reduced to just two lanes northbound while there are three narrow lanes in both directions on the five year old southbound section.