The long-delayed cross-borough link road in South Ribble will not now open until the end of February 2020 – almost a year after traffic was first expected to start flowing.
There have been several false dawns for drivers keen to use the new route, which connects The Cawsey in Penwortham to Carrwood Road in Walton-le-Dale. Land ownership issues and snagging work have seen the opening date repeatedly slip back.
The latest hold-up is in response to residents’ demands that safety measures on the Walton-le-Dale side of the route should be put in place before the new road opens. Locals launched a campaign back in October amidst concerns that traffic descending from the link road would pose a risk to pedestrians.
A traffic light-controlled crossing will be installed at the junction with the Old Tram Road cycleway and footpath, while pavements will be extended in order to remove the need for unnecessary zig-zagging from one side of the road to the other.
Both schemes were always part of the plan for highways bosses at Lancashire County Council – but they were not due to be introduced until after the new road was carrying vehicles.
Parking restrictions will also be added close to the new crossing, meaning a public consultation will now have to be carried out – delaying the process further.
Stuart Clay, who lives on nearby Loxwood Close, off Carrwood Road, welcomed the decision by County Hall to wait for the safety measures to be installed before allowing traffic to use the new route – but bemoaned the fact that another delay was even necessary.
“We need this road to be safe as soon as it opens – but why couldn’t they have organised it better?
“If they’d planned it the right way round, it could be done by now. Like most people, I just want the bloomin’ thing open,” Stuart said.
Fellow campaigner Kathryn Young also gave a cautious welcome to the county council’s change of heart, but she remains concerned over the speed of traffic as it passes from the new stretch of road onto the existing route.
“That will still be an issue depending on whether they put speed humps in as well. There should also be a second pedestrian crossing after the junction with Valley View, because people won’t walk back down to the first one,” Kathryn warned.
The new route will have a 30mph speed limit – the same as the roads which it connects.
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “Following concerns raised by local residents and their representatives we have agreed to put in place measures to support pedestrians and cyclists – and calm traffic speeds – before the new link road opens.
“Work is currently ongoing to widen and extend footways to cover the full length of Carrwood Road, and we are also finalising proposals for a crossing to support both pedestrians and cyclists located at the intersection of Old Tram Road and Carwood Road.
“The crossing will include suitable road markings to restrict vehicles from parking in the vicinity of the junction, and we are working towards being able to publish the proposals and begin consultation before the Christmas break.
“We are also working closely with Morris Homes to complete the adoption of the road so that it can be maintained by Lancashire County Council in the future, and will be working to open it as soon as possible once all planned highway works are completed.”
Morris Homes funded the cross-borough link road as part of a planning agreement when it was granted permission to build the 281-home St. Mary’s Park development.
It is possible that the adoption of the route will be completed before the safety works are finished – meaning the county council has had to impose a special order prohibiting traffic on the road, even though it is not yet officially open. That order runs out on 29th February.