County Hall bosses could be facing an avalanche of compensation claims from residents now the new Penwortham Bypass is up and running.
Householders living nearby say they have been approached by half a dozen national law firms offering to take on the county council over the disruption to their lives caused by two years of construction work.
And many admit they have signed up with solicitors in the hope of getting a pay-out for the problems they have suffered - and are still suffering - now the road is open to traffic.
“It was a nightmare while it was being built and it’s a nightmare now it’s finished,” said one elderly resident, whose bungalow in Howick Moor Lane looks out onto the route of the new John Horrocks Way.
“We’ve put up with mess and noise and we’ve not even been able to get to our front gate some days due to all the construction traffic.
“Now, instead of listening to birdsong from the fields opposite our house, we have the constant hum of traffic day and night.”
LCC opened the £17.5m bypass 18 days ago, much to the relief of many Penwortham folk who have had to suffer years of traffic jams along Liverpool Road, one of the busiest thoroughfares in and out of Preston.
At the same time the council closed off the A59 - the town’s main shopping street - while a new slip road junction was built to give access to local traffic.
That junction was due to re-open today, bringing an end to almost three weeks of lengthy diversions for drivers wanting to reach the town centre from the west.
Bus services too were due to return to normal after having to re-route along the bypass and down Cop Lane. For public transport users living along Liverpool Road the resumption could not come quickly enough.
One, a pensioner from Howick Moor Lane, said: “I don’t drive and the shops are too far to walk. So I’ve felt like a prisoner in my own home these past three weeks, not being able to get a bus at the top of the road.”
Residents say they have been taking advice from the compensation lawyers about noise, traffic disruption, dust and problems with construction vehicles during the building of the new road and the re-siting of adjacent school playing fields. Some say their gardens are now flooding.
“I know it’s been wet this year, but we’ve never seen flooding like this in all the time we’ve lived here,” said Michael Maddox, whose front and rear gardens were under water for days recently.
“The water has lifted the blockwork borders around our garden. It’s been like a paddy field and a lot of the houses along Howick Moor Lane have also suffered similar problems.
“The school football pitches they have built across the road are a good meter higher than they were before and I suspect that’s why we’re getting all this water.”
Highways specialists have built an earth banking and acoustic fencing to mitigate the effects of the new dual carriageway on its neighbours. Large scale tree and hedgerow planting has also been employed to help screen the road.
Jacqueline Atherton, whose home also looks out across the new football fields towards the bypass, said: “It’s noisy. And we can see the taller vehicles like lorries and buses driving along the road because the fences just aren’t big enough.
“When we moved here this land was meant to be green belt for at least 25 years. That was 10 years ago.
“There is a slight droning noise all the time and it has really made a difference for us. You can even hear it inside the house.
"When you live in a country lane and suddenly you get a noisy road across the way it’s a bit of a shock.”
Carole Mapp, who lives in The Spinney, just off Howick Moor Lane, agreed the noise is the big issue.
“It’s a constant humming - and that’s with sound-proof fencing between us and the bypass. Even before it was open I had to complain to the council over the incessant bleeping noise from diggers reversing up and down the site. It was driving me insane.
“Like other folk round here, we’ve talked to one of the solicitors’ firms and we’ve been told it will be 12 months from the day the road was opened before we can lodge a claim. Let’s hope it gets better before then.”
Neighbour Elayne Crabtree added: “Throughout the building of the road it’s been horrendous with all the work going on. We couldn’t sit out in our gardens in the summer because of all the noise. It was relentless.
“I think Penwortham in general will benefit from the bypass once things settle down. But for us who live near it, it isn’t very good.”
For almost three weeks Penwortham has been likened to a ghost village, with nose-to-tail traffic replaced by an almost empty main street.
But from today the A59 should be open again to local traffic - and buses - after the completion of work on the junction with the new bypass.
Yet drivers tempted to nip through could find the "shortcut" takes longer than going with the flow along John Horrocks Way.
New 20 mph speed restrictions are being brought into force, with new layouts at both ends of the main road designed to delay through traffic and persuade motorists the faster option will be via the bypass.
The return of bus services to the A59 will also mean relief for passengers hit by a major detour via the new road and Cop Lane.
COUNTY HALL'S RESPONSE
Highways bosses insist they have tried to keep disruption to a minimum during the construction of the new bypass.
And they hope that once the A59 has been re-opened things will be much better.
"We are on schedule with our work on Liverpool Road and it should re-open during Thursday, all being well," said Ridwan Musa, area highways manager for Lancashire County Council.
"Thank you to people for their patience during this final construction work. Please bear with us for a few more days.
"During the construction work we have tried to minimise the disruption to local residents. The temporary closure involved access to our compound via the end of Howick Moor Lane. This was only for a short time while we did this work.
"Once Liverpool Road is open we'll be able to see more of the benefits for people in and around Penwortham following the opening of the John Horrocks Way."