Council chiefs are celebrating after the first phase of a £3.4m project to transform pavements and roads in Preston city centre was completed.
Fishergate Central Gateway Project, paid for by Lancashire County Council and European Regional Development Fund, has seen a ‘shared space’ for pedestrians and cars emerge, with wider pavements, traffic lights and signs removed and trees planted.
Phil Barrett, director of highways at LCC, said: “We fully accept there’s been disruption, but it is of great benefit to shoppers and traders.
“Before there were three lanes of traffic, guard rails all over the place, obstructions in the footways and HGVs flying down the road. Now it’s a much more open space, with traffic moving freely.
“You no longer have people racing to get through the lights, and people are getting used to the shared space and being very considerate. On balance, it’s a much safer place now.”
Motorists flouting the no parking rule in Fishergate and Corporation Street can expect £70 fines, and the council will crack down on businesses cluttering pavements with boards.
LCC and Preston Council have a maintainence agreement with spare materials in storage for any future work.
Andrew Stringer, manager of the Fishergate Centre, said: “It’s remarkable and now inkeeping with every other major city in the North West.”
County Coun John Swindells said: “The contractors have been fantastic, they have keep doors open at all times. It’s very attractive and traders are looking forward to phase two.”
Work from Lune Street to the Miller Arcade is expected to start next year.
Only hours after celebrations, traffic in Fishergate ground to a halt because of a protest by taxi drivers over a cabbie being ticketed.
Mark Selley of the Preston Hackney Carriage Association said drivers were frustrated about the lack of spaces available to them because of road and railway works, and the taxi driver felt unfairly targetted today.
A spokesman for LCC said a meeting was scheduled for next week to discuss options with taxi drivers, but that after a “relaxed” approach during works, new regulations were now being enforced.