Could traffic light test ease congestion on this busy Preston road?

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Every set of traffic lights on one of the busiest roads in Preston will be inspected to check that they are helping to keep traffic flowing smoothly through the city.

The signals along a three-mile stretch of the A59/A6 are to be monitored to ensure they are operating “efficiently”, after Lancashire County Council’s cabinet gave the go-ahead for the work.

The A59 Ringway at the junction with Friargate

The A59 Ringway at the junction with Friargate

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Experts will assess the eleven signal-controlled junctions between Guild Way to the west of County Hall, along Ringway past Preston Crown Court and onto London Road towards the Capitol retail park.

The work will involve monitoring existing traffic light technology on the route to ensure that it is correctly responding to real-time changes in traffic flows.

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The study will start on London Way close to the Capitol retail park...

The study will start on London Way close to the Capitol retail park...

The signals are already capable of assessing and reacting to the volume of traffic in an attempt to reduce queues on the often-congested route. Some of the lights can even interact via a central computer in order to ensure the junctions work with - rather than against - each other.

However, the systems - known as MOVA and SCOOT - require occasional “validation” to ensure that they are reading the road correctly.

“In such studies, observers are deployed to check the timings of the lights are an appropriate response to what is actually happening at the junction,” a spokesman from the Green Signals traffic consultancy explained.

“The process ensures progression can be made by vehicles along the route and that signals make good decisions [based on the traffic conditions],” he added.

...and end on Guild Way at the junction with Wellfield Road

...and end on Guild Way at the junction with Wellfield Road

The £200,000 project will also see journey times monitored to provide evidence for potential future funding bids if more extensive remodelling work is ultimately required at the locations.

The authority has previously bid to the government’s National Productivity Investment Fund for “large scale infrastructure changes” along the route, but was unsuccessful.

Funding for the study has come from the postponement of a planned upgrade to a roundabout at junction 13 of the M65 near Nelson.

Meanwhile, cabinet members were told that plans to improve the operation of junction 31 of the M6 at Salmesbury are still being developed, with a similar traffic signal efficiency study being undertaken in the short-term.

However, highways officers have concluded that the nearby junction of the A59 and A677, close to the Swallow Hotel, will not require a significant upgrade for the next decade - in spite of the fact that it is a key route connecting the developing Enterprise Zone in the area to the motorway network. Major works were last carried out at the location back in 2009.