Fed-up motorists being driven round the bend by roadworks in and around Preston were given some mixed news today.
Work on the M6/M55 interchange around Broughton is set to continue until January – two months later than planned.
But roadworks on the southbound M6 which have caused massive tailbacks are due to finish by the end of this week.
The city’s roads network has been hit by a “perfect storm” in the last two weeks, with motorway roadworks and other delays in and around the city centre leading to massive congestion.
For months now, there have been narrow lanes and a 50mph speed restriction in both directions around junction 32 at Broughton because of £7m “pinch point widening” work.
Since last week, a lane has been closed on the southbound M6, leading to tailbacks from the M55 and M6 as far as the junction with the M61.
At peak times, traffic has been unable to join the M6 at junction 31a, causing massive tailbacks around the edges of Preston.
And Preston city centre has been gridlocked each evening as drivers try desperately to find alternative routes.
Motorists heading towards Penwortham have also been hit by roadworks on the Penwortham bypass and at Whitestake, causing tailbacks to the Strand Road area.
A Highways Agency spokesman said the work on the southbound M6 was not related to the “pinch point widening” work.
It involved investigative work on the Higher Walton viaduct and should be finished by the end of the week.
He said: “It only has a few days to go. In the meantime we would urge motorists to allow extra time or find alternative routes where possible.”
Babs Murphy, chief Executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said: “It appears to be happening more and more, with many of the major routes in/out of Preston being affected. We should look at strictly programming road works to avoid multiple disruptions and effectively plan for getting the work done quickly.
“To minimise the current impact, contractors should be looking at accelerating the works through increasing the working hours on site and where appropriate and safe to do so this could mean 24 hour working.”
The £7m Broughton interchange project was due to be completed in October. But the Highways Agency spokesman said today it was likely to run until January.
Evening Post readers have also vented their anger online.
@geordiemark23 said: “Been awful for last two weeks, don’t even go on M6 but it spills into Preston, J31a area bedlam every night”
@splintaay said: “A normal 20 min commute has turned into a 45 min commute! Pretty crazy driving as well from some.”
@davepakey71 said: “It takes over 60mins from Ingol to Ormskirk via A59 every night.”
@cousinbry74 said: “45-50 mins from docks to Walton le Dale thru Penwortham with no obvious reason, very frustrating after a day at work.”
The “pinch point widening” work has also seen overnight closures and diversions. But Highways chiefs say the work will eventually be worth it as it wil lead to a better traffic flow on the busy motorways in and around Preston.
Road users can call the Highways Agency Information Line (0300 123 5000) to keep up to date with road conditions.