Central Lancashire will be the focus of a £275m package of jam-busting road improvements, it has been revealed.
Lancashire County Council said the investment will ease congestion on the roads and make it easier for people to get onto buses, cycle and walk.
The masterplan is proposing a new ‘parkway’ station to go in the north-west of Preston where thousands of new homes are planned, a new link road from the M55 near Bartle to the A583 Blackpool Road and widening roads in South Ribble.
It expects to start with a £6.6m project to ease the ‘pinch point’ at Junction 32 of the M6, £2m improvement to the Broughton interchange between the M55 and M6, electrification of the Preston-Blackpool rail line and a £19m new bus station for Preston.
The plan, published today ahead of a six-week publication consultation starting in January, predicts work will start on these projects within the next 12 months.
On the bus station, Tim Ashton, the council’s cabinet member for highways, said the current building was “not fit for the 21st Century.
He said: “We will work with Preston Council to develop plans and ensure Preston does not have to settle for second best.”
A decision is due to be taken by the city council’s cabinet next Monday whether it will bulldoze the iconic building which it claims costs nearly £300,000 a year to keep open.
The ‘parkway’ station at Cottam in Preston would be similar to the one opened at Buckshaw Village, near Chorley, in 2011.
David Colbert, the council’s specialist advisor for transport planning, said it would it would sit where the new M55 link road met the Preston-Blackpool rail link, set for electrification. The improvements to local train stations will see the amount of car parking spaces at Leyland and Chorley stations increased with Preston’s station turned into “a 21st Century interchange.”
Mr Colbert said: “The big problem at Preston is getting people around the station.”
County Hall’s head of planning Marcus Hudson said it could not go along “intermittently making changes” to the county’s creaking road network.
He said: “For the delivery of these proposals we are talking about work taking place between now and 2026, but it will provide the solutions to future-proof our roads beyond 2026.”
The third element of the plans could see land used as roads “greened up” into public spaces, including around shops on Liverpool Road, Penwortham.
The council has made priorities around areas it knows major house-building is due to north-west Preston and between Farington, Leyland and Penwortham and around its Enterprise Zones at BAE Systems’ factories at Warton and Samlesbury.
Two-thirds of the cash for the plans will come from the public purse - including the county council, Department for Transport and Highways Agency - with the rest made up by contributions from house-builders and developers.
People will be able to give their views through a series of public exhibitions and an online survey.