Preston and South Ribble road and rail schemes form part of governemnt cash bid

Plans to create a dual carriageway between South Ribble and Preston and a new railway station in Leyland are amongst the Lancashire transport projects included in a pitch for government cash to “rebuild and transform the North” in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

By Paul Faulkner
Wednesday, 12th August 2020, 8:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th August 2020, 9:02 pm

The longstanding proposal to upgrade the A582 – one of the main routes in and out of Preston – has previously struggled to secure the money needed to make it a reality. It is one of the schemes that ministers will be told could get off the drawing board in between two and four years if they put it in the fast lane for full funding.

Under the plans, two lanes would be created in each direction from the A582’s junction with the A6, through to the ‘tank roundabout’; and from Penwortham Way to the Broad Oak roundabout. The B5253 stretch of Flensburg Way from the Farington recycling centre to Longmeanygate would also be turned into a dual carriageway as part of the project.

A planning application for the scheme is set to be submitted later this year and Lancashire County Council has the power to compulsorily purchase the land needed for the widening work.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Could the cash needed to turn the A582 into a dual carriageway be on the horizon? (image: Google Streetview)

The government will also be asked to support the development of a business case for a new station at Midge Hall near Leyland – almost 60 years after a previous interchange at the location was shut. The facility would serve 850 new homes and a wider area which is currently without nearby rail services – with a proposed start date of between 2022 and 2024 if the scheme is deemed to stack up.

Transport for the North (TfN) has put forward more than 160 projects across the whole of the North of England, requiring £5bn in funding – which it is estimated will create 20,000 construction jobs.

A series of short-term projects have also been proposed – which could be brought to life in between six and 18 months – including the creation of several sustainable and active transport corridors in Preston. The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that the schemes would encourage cycling and bus use in particular areas.

The exact locations of these schemes have yet to be made public, but the Preston City Transport Plan – published last November – included suggestions such as pedestrianising the full length of Friargate to create a better connection between the university quarter and the city centre.

Additionally, the document proposed extending the Fishergate ‘shared space’ scheme to Church Street and the Manchester Road area between the city’s bus station and Cardinal Newman College.

As part of the bid to government, TfN has requested funding for contactless ticketing facilities at all railway stations.

Meanwhile, support for longer-term projects that could be kickstarted by upfront investment is also being sought. In Lancashire, these include proposals for a “passing loop” on the railway line between Blackpool and Preston to create more frequent and faster journeys – as well as funding for the detailed design stage for long-vaunted plans for a station in Skelmersdale.

Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, Michael Green, said a cash boost could make all the difference to some of the schemes proposed ed for Lancashire.

“We know the government is keen to invest in transport infrastructure, particularly where there is evidence that projects can be delivered quickly and that every pound spent will have a good return and give confidence to businesses.

“We’ve put forward a number of schemes as part of the Transport for the North Economic Recovery Plan which are at an advanced stage, and where an injection of cash now could lead to work on the ground being able to start quickly.

“These road, rail and sustainable transport improvements are needed to update our infrastructure and ensure Lancashire can meet the needs of residents and businesses as our economy recovers from the pandemic and grows over the coming years," Cllr Green added.