Residents are demanding that the opening of the new South Ribble link road is delayed until safety measures have been put in place on the Walton-le-Dale side of the route.
The timetable for unveiling the cross-borough connection - which will join up Carrwood Road off the A6 with The Cawsey in Penwortham - has repeatedly slipped since its first intended opening date back in March.
The Lancashire Post understands that the road is now set to open within days - but not if locals in Walton-le-Dale have anything to do with it.
A leaflet distributed late last week called on residents living off Carrwood Road - whose days as a cul-de-sac are numbered - to contact their local county councillor to appeal for the brakes to be put on the scheme.
The tactic resulted in Penwortham East and Walton-le-Dale member Joan Burrows receiving almost 20 detailed objections in the space of a weekend.
Amongst other demands, those living in the area said that they wanted a planned pedestrian crossing to be installed on Carrwood Road prior to the new link route opening. The traffic light-controlled crossing is due to be located at the junction with Old Tram Road, known locally as the old tramway - the popular pedestrian and cycle path which connects Preston and Bamber Bridge.
The author of the leaflet, Loxwood Close resident Kathryn Young, says she and her neighbours simply want the same treatment as those on the Penwortham side of the route, which has been built as part of the development of 281 homes on the former Lostock Hall gas works.
“Over on The Cawsey, close to where the new houses are, there are crossings installed already - it’s ludicrous that those of us in Walton-le-Dale, who have lived here much longer, are having to wait,” Kathryn says.
"One crossing is not sufficient anyway - there needs to be another after the junction with Valley View. Children leaving that development and crossing over to get the school bus won’t walk all the way down here to use this one set of lights - they will take a chance.
“The same goes for the more elderly residents on the Oakland Glen estate - they won’t necessarily be able to go out of their way to use the crossing, whenever it may be installed,” she adds.
There is no timeframe for when the 'toucan'-style crossing will be operational - nor for when separate plans to extend the footpaths on either side of the existing stretch of Carrwood Road will be completed. Currently, there are sections of the road with a walkway on only one side.
Stuart Clay, who has lived in the area for two decades, says that it is only when the traffic cones are kicked aside and the link road carries its first cars that residents’ concerns will be made real.
“I remember there being quite a heated public meeting about all this as long as 15 years ago.
“We have never had any objection to the road itself, we always knew that it was going to come one day - but we want to make it safe for children and the vulnerable.
“Nobody is saying don’t open it - just make sure it is opened safely,” Stuart implores.
It is understood that work on the additional features may not have a definitive start date for some months, while they are factored in to Lancashire County Council’s programme of highway jobs.
But one resident, who did not want to be named, says that the current plans fall far short of the safety measures which are needed - and called for speed-reduction to be designed in to the scheme from the start.
“The nights are getting darker, as will the mornings be soon - and children walking to school will be so hard to spot, especially as schools insist on dark coats and bags.
“When you stand up on the new road at the barriers, it is hard to even see Loxwood Close - and I imagine you won't see it at all from the bend on the bridge.
“Vehicles will be coming downhill [onto Carrwood Road] - and potentially going that bit quicker,” she adds.
The link road itself will have the same 30mph limit as Carrwood Road itself.
County Cllr Burrows says that she understands the concerns of the residents who have contacted her - and has tried to ensure safety is managed until the crossing and paths have been installed.
“I have asked the Lancashire Road Safety Partnership to deploy their mobile unit for monitoring speed and also to set up the speed signs which show a smiley or a sad face depending on how fast a vehicle is travelling.
“At the moment, it’s all an unknown quantity. You will always get irresponsible drivers who will go over the speed limit. Plus, the road might be quite busy at first with people going down to take a look - but they may never use it again.
“There are a lot of people who are looking forward to the road opening, because it will make life so much easier for them,” County Cllr Burrows explains.
It is understood that there will be no official ceremony or fanfare to mark the moment that the link road finally opens - almost 50 years since it was first mooted as an idea back in the early 1970s.
WHY THE WAIT FOR TRAFFIC LIGHTS?
Funding for the link road itself came from housebuilder Morris Homes, as part of an agreement which was entered into when they were granted permission for the 281-home St. Mary’s Park development. It is understood that they have also contributed to the pedestrian crossing and footpath extension schemes which will follow on Carrwood Road.
As the highways authority, Lancashire County Council will be carrying out the work, but the money has been channelled through district authority South Ribble Borough Council, which awarded planning permission for the overall development.
Cllr Bill Evans, South Ribble’s cabinet member for planning and regeneration, said:
"South Ribble Borough Council provided funding for additional traffic calming measures in June 2019 with the intention for Lancashire County Council to work with Morris Homes to deliver a work plan.
“We are pleased to hear that this development work is taking place and that traffic calming measures will be put in place.
“We share residents’ disappointment that the road will open before these measures are in place; however, the development is out of the control of South Ribble Borough Council and we are confident that Lancashire County Council will manage traffic effectively in the interim.”
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: "We have been working closely with Morris Homes throughout design and construction to ensure the road can be opened and available for public use as soon as possible when it is finished, and have also been working with the developer and South Ribble Borough Council to fund improvements to manage its impacts.
"The overall aim of these measures will be to better manage the additional traffic on Carrwood Road with the link open between Leyland Road and the A6 London Way, better supporting the needs of pedestrians and cyclists.
"They include extending and widening footways to ensure there is a shared use facility for pedestrians and cyclists along the length of Carrwood Road, a new Toucan crossing to improve safety where the existing shared footway/cycleway crosses Carrwood Road, removal of vegetation to improve sightlines, and improvements to signs and road markings.
"When the road first opens we will ensure temporary signs are in place to manage traffic by warning motorists of the new road layout, and alert them to the 30mph speed limit, and the presence of cyclists and pedestrians. We will closely monitor how the road is being used when it opens, and are working to schedule the permanent improvements over the coming months."