Drivers are facing a full year of hold-ups on one of the busiest routes into Preston.
Work began this week on creating a junction for the £17.5m Penwortham Bypass from the A59 dual carriageway at Howick.
And with one lane closed off in either direction, motorists are being warned to expect disruption until the new road is open early next year.
“We ask people to bear with us while this work takes place,” said Jim Carter, chairman of City Deal which is funding the project.
And Coun Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, added: “There will be disruption while the road is being built, but it will be worth it in the end.”
The section of the A59 between the Anchor roundabout at Hutton and the centre of Penwortham has been a traffic bottleneck for years in the morning rush hour.
The creation of the Penwortham Bypass is expected to divert 22,000 vehicles a day around the town, reducing the traffic volume by between 40 per cent and 70 per cent at peak times.
But the new bypass is not expected to be ready until January or February 2020, so motorists already frustrated by rush hour delays will have to endure even more disruption for the next 12 months.
The advice from highways chiefs at County Hall is simply: “Allow more travel time in this area.”
Work on building the bypass from the Booths roundabout on Golden Way to the Liverpool Road started in January last year.
Now, 13 months on, the road is mostly built, but it stops short of the A59 with sports fields belonging to All Hallows RC School still standing in the way of the bulldozers.
The work to create a traffic light junction should be the final piece of the jigsaw for a scheme which should bring long-awaited relief to the people of Penwortham. Congestion has affected their main street for decades and improvements to make it more pedestrian-friendly should follow.
“This is a big stage in the contruction of the new bypass as work begins to build the new junction,” said City Deal’s Jim Carter.
“A lot of work has been taking place on the new bypass over the past year. Work started in January 2018, so we’re over the halfway mark already.
“The next phase of this involves creating the new junction on the A59 for the bypass, so there could be some disruption to people’s journeys.
“We ask people to bear with us while this work takes place, as the new road will add significant capacity on the road network, reduce congestion and open up new opportunities for business.”
LCC leader Geoff Driver added: “A new road has been talked about for many years. Local people have put up with congestion for too long through the town and I’m pleased that construction is going well and that the road will open next year.
“Once the bypass opens, traffic will reduce in the centre of Penwortham and there will be extra capacity on the road network. There will be disruption while the road is being built, but it will be worth it in the end.”
South Ribble Council leader, Coun Margaret Smith, said: “It’s good to see the work on the Penwortham Bypass progressing. Making this section of the A59 a dual carriageway will also help to ease congestion and hopefully reduce traffic, not only going down Lindle Lane, but also through the villages in the western parishes of South Ribble.
“Developing new infrastructure in South Ribble will also support future growth and help to improve air quality.”
The relief of Penwortham
They have waited decades to get respite from the constant hum of traffic.
Within a year it should finally happen for thousands who live in this dormitary town over the river from Preston.
And plans are already well-advanced for making the town centre more pedestrian-friendly once the bulk of the traffic is diverted around it.
Wider pavements will add to recent improvements which have already seen hitherto sleepy Penwortham experiment with a bit of cafe culture, making it something of a “desination venue” - a place to stop off instead of just pass through.
Two new drinking establishments - the Lime Bar and the Tap and Vine - have attracted custom from outside the town. Two new coffee shops are soon to be joined by a third.
A “high-end” restaurant is also planned. So relief from traffic congestion can only help promote a more vibrant Penwortham.
Bypassing a bottleneck
Penwortham’s long-awaited relief road could see traffic in the town centre reduced by as much as 70 per cent during rush hour.
That is the prediction of highways experts and the justification for a £17.5m road which has been decades in the making.
The route was approved in March 2015, taking into account views from the public during a consultation process the previous year.
Diverting traffic off the A59 Liverpool Road at Howick, the new road is expected to take up to 22,000 vehicles a day out of the centre of Penwortham, offering residents some respite and businesses an opportunity to flourish.
It is also expected to speed up public transport from the congestion it currently faces at peak times. Buses will be prioritised through the town.
The siting of the junction with the A59 is significant in that it is lined up with the route of a possible bridge across the River Ribble, should that ever be built in years to come.
The 1.3km road will link Liverpool Road with the Broad Oak roundabout near to the Booths store. That has already been rebuilt as part of the work to make the A582 a dual carriageway into Preston city centre.
The bypass goes to the west of All Hallows School, but will cut across the school’s sports pitches which are being rebuilt in a line along Howick Moor Lane.