Fury as hundreds of drivers trapped in Preston roadworks chaos

No way out: Traffic chaos on Deepdale Retail Park
No way out: Traffic chaos on Deepdale Retail Park
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Workmen causing traffic turmoil on a busy city highway have been ordered to pack up and clear off by December 1 to avoid Christmas chaos.

Drivers complain they have been snarled up in long queues for anything up to half an hour by work at the entrance to Deepdale Retail Park in Preston.

The delays have been compounded by alterations to a traffic light junction and the installation of a new pedestrian crossing further down Blackpool Road. And they been causing gridlock on the retail park itself as drivers struggle to get in or out.

But now, after the worst congestion yet yesterday, with jams stretching back more than half a mile in both directions, a councillor has demanded contractors sort things out – and fast.

“It’s horrendous,” said Coun Terry Cartwright, who represents Deepdale Ward on the city council. “I’ve been inundated with people ringing me to complain. Some can’t even get out of their drives because the road is completely blocked.

“It has been going on for a while now, but I’m told the contractors have been ordered to finish by the end of November.

“It had better be. If it isn’t complete then they will have to suspend all work until the New Year to make way for the Christmas shopping rush.”

Groundworks to extend the retail park with four new furniture stores and a tool hire company have meant the closure of the left-turning lane for traffic travelling east. But in yesterday’s gridlock delays were just as long for drivers going west.

Coun Cartwright said new lights at Blackpool Road’s junction with St Gregory Road and Primrose Road, phased to give pedestrians more time to cross, are nearing completion. And a new puffin crossing near the local primary school has also been installed.

Lancashire County Council, which has been carrying out the highways work, has pledged to get things tidied up by December 1 as festive shoppers hit the stores. And a spokesman revealed the pace of the work has now been stepped up to hit the finish date.

John Gatheral, LCC’s highways design manager, said: “We’re sorry for the delays currently being experienced due to the works on Blackpool Road.

“The work which most affects traffic is being done outside of peak times, and we’re operating the signals manually to manage traffic as efficiently as possible, but Blackpool Road is so busy that any kind of disruption at all has a big impact.

“Due to today’s delays being worse than expected we’ve put extra resources in to ensure work that had been planned over two days is completed today. However, we’ll be carrying out surfacing work in the carriageway at both the Deepdale Retail park entrance and at St Gregory’s junction until Monday , December 1, so would ask people to use alternative routes if they can.

“The work we’re doing is to install intelligent traffic signals to improve the flow of traffic and reduce delays in future and improve pedestrian and cycling facilities, which is all funded by the developer of Deepdale Retail Park.”

Coun Cartwright, who lives in the area and is caught up in the queues on a daily basis, added: “The traffic lights and crossing have both caused hold-ups, but they are either finished now or near to finishing.

“But the real problem is at the entrance to the retail park where they have closed the left-turning lane while theh sort out the ultilities.

“It’s an absolute mess, but hopefully we won’t have to put up with it much longer. The businesses on the retail park are understandably pushing for this to be brought to a speedy end. They don’t want their pre-Christmas trade affected by a traffic nightmare.”

“I’ve been inundated with people ringing me to complain. Some can’t even get out of their drives because the road is completely blocked.

“It has been going on for a while now, but I’m told the contractors have been ordered to finish by the end of November.

“It had better be. If it isn’t complete then they will have to suspend all work until the New Year to make way for the Christmas shopping rush.”

Groundworks to extend the retail park with four new furniture stores and a tool hire company have meant the closure of the left-turning lane for traffic travelling east. But in yesterday’s gridlock delays were just as long for drivers going west.

Coun Cartwright said new lights at Blackpool Road’s junction with St Gregory Road and Primrose Road, phased to give pedestrians more time to cross, are nearing completion. And a new puffin crossing near the local primary school has also been installed.

Lancashire County Council, which has been carrying out the highways work, has pledged to get things tidied up by December 1 as festive shoppers hit the stores. And a spokesman revealed the pace of the work has now been stepped up to hit the finish date.

John Gatheral, LCC’s highways design manager, said: “We’re sorry for the delays currently being experienced due to the works on Blackpool Road.

“The work which most affects traffic is being done outside of peak times, and we’re operating the signals manually to manage traffic as efficiently as possible, but Blackpool Road is so busy that any kind of disruption at all has a big impact. Due to today’s delays being worse than expected we’ve put extra resources in to ensure work that had been planned over two days is completed today. However, we’ll be carrying out surfacing work in the carriageway at both the Deepdale Retail park entrance and at St Gregory’s junction until Monday , December 1, so would ask people to use alternative routes if they can.”