Four major traffic projects around Preston could help to save the city’s businesses millions of pounds a year.
According to a new report, congestion throughout the city forces workers to sit in traffic jams for more than 82 hours a year, potentially costing employers up to £3.8m.
Preston is the 25th most congested place in the UK, according to research conducted by TomTom, and with 7,000 goods vehicles registered in the city, businesses could be taking a hefty hit.
And plenty of city centre shops admit they struggle with the slow-moving traffic.
Laura Greenwood, assistant manager at the Church Street French Connection store, said: “Traffic can get quite bad around Preston and we often hear about people getting stuck in it to and from work – so these figures aren’t a big surprise.
“Our delivery vans come early in the morning to avoid any delays and we’re lucky because we’re at a quiet end of Fishergate.”
But despite admitting the city’s transport network is struggling to cope, county councillor David Borrow, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council says “good progress” is being made on four major road schemes to reduce congestion.
He said: “Central Lancashire’s strong economic performance over the last decade and more has resulted in the creation of many new and expanded businesses and tens of thousands of private sector jobs across the area.
“The success and popularity of the area to businesses, workers and new residents does inevitably mean more journeys and growing volumes of traffic.
“For a number of years it has been clear to anyone who lives and works in the area that Preston has a transport network that has increasingly come to struggle with these growing demands.
“That is why we are currently carrying out a huge programme of work to add more road capacity where it is needed, improve opportunities for journeys by alternatives to the car, and reduce numbers of private cars and improve conditions in the most congested areas.
“The £434m Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, signed between local councils and central government, will boost the economy by £1 billion, promoting growth by improving the area’s infrastructure. We are making good progress on the four major road schemes which will help to dramatically reduce congestion. The Broughton Bypass will be opened next year, work is well underway on reducing bottlenecks and improving journey times along the A582 between the city centre and Cuerden and the motorway network, the planning application for the Preston Western Distributor, which will link Preston and southern Fylde with the M55, is due to be decided soon, and the planning application for Penwortham Bypass will be submitted in the new year.”
The costs were found using the TomTom Traffic Index, which sees hours lost in traffic multiplied by the national minimum wage in 2015, £6.70.
London is the worst affected, with queuing drivers costing businesses more than £237m per year.
Councillor Peter Rankin, Leader of Preston City Council, said: “This report lists 25 of the UK’s top cities and states that in every city there is congestion.
“It is vital therefore that Government and also ourselves as local authorities, continue to invest in roads and transport.
“Improving our transport infrastructure benefits local people and local business – such as the Broughton By-pass for example.
“Looking ahead, Preston will also benefit from the huge investment going into HS2 so in the next few years we aim to significantly reduce congestion in and around Preston.”