Preston’s main shopping street has been branded a “deathtrap” after it was turned into a £3.4m free-for-all for traffic and pedestrians.
A city councillor has claimed mothers with prams, disabled people and the elderly are all at risk crossing Fishergate now it no longer has traffic lights.
“I hate to say this, but there is going to be a serious accident there before long,” stormed Coun Christine Abram.
“And I feel completely and utterly frustrated that as a Preston councillor I am powerless to do anything about something so dangerous in my own city centre.”
The Fishergate Central Gateway project, designed and constructed by Lancashire County Council, is nearing completion after months of alterations to create a more “pedestrian friendly” retail street.
But Coun Abram was left shaken on a shopping trip after trying to cross the road with her grandson in his pushchair.
“It’s a deathtrap,” she said. “It’s a free-for-all with pedestrians risking life and limb trying to dodge between the traffic.
“At least when the street had traffic lights you could wait for a gap to appear. But not any more. I tried for ages to get across and so too did other people trying to get to the other side. It was really scary.
“The general opinion of those I talked to is it’s dangerous.”
Coun Abram, who represents Lea Ward on the city council, claimed she had contacted the county council to register her concern and had been told: “Thanks for your feedback.”
“I’ve got to say that, even though I’m a city councillor, I haven’t been told much about what the thinking is on this scheme.
It’s a county project because they are the highways authority.
“I’ve seen the work being done over the past weeks, but I didn’t appreciate just how dangerous it is going to be until I took my little grandson to town in his pram. I was shocked.
“But it isn’t just pedestrians at risk, it looks dangerous for drivers as well. While I was standing in front of the Fishergate Centre there was very nearly a collision between a van coming out of Corporation Street and two cars coming down Fishergate.
“I just felt I had to raise the issue because I would have felt awful if I hadn’t said anything and then there had been a serious accident. At least I’ve flagged it up.
“We are supposed to be trying to attract more people into Preston city centre, not drive them out.”
Paul Dunne, the county council’s highways manager for Preston, said: “We are closely monitoring the impact of the works and have made some changes to how pedestrians are guided across the road at certain points, which we hope make it easier to cross.
“We do understand people’s concerns about crossing the road during busy periods and it will take pedestrians and drivers a little time to adapt to the changes we’re making, which will give pedestrians equal priority to vehicles.
“In the meantime we’d urge drivers and pedestrians alike to take extra care while the work continues.
“By the end of the scheme we aim to have created a much more welcoming environment for pedestrians that helps to breathe new life into the city centre.”