£40m plans take shape to transform transport in Preston

A £40m scheme to transform Preston's transport system and rid the city of some of its notorious traffic problems has been revealed in greater detail by County Hall.

Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 2:51 pm
How the busy junction of Ringway and Friargate could look.

The project, first announced before lockdown in March, is set to provide a greener solution to the road bottlenecks which have been choking the city centre and making life difficult for people travelling in and out.

Government cash from the Transforming Cities Fund will be used to boost connectivity by bus, rail and active travel (cycling and walking), shortening journey times for both commuters and shoppers.

Part of the £40m grant will go towards building a new parkway rail station at Cottam to serve the thousands of new homes being built across the top of Preston.

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Ringway at rush hour at present.

But improvements in the city itself will be aimed at promoting the use of public transport and encouraging more people to leave their cars at home and travel by bike or on foot.

Planning work has now begun which would see changes to the Ringway and north Friargate areas of the city centre as part of the overall scheme.

The measures being considered include:

* Pedestrianisation of Friargate between Ringway and Marsh Lane;

* A new signal controlled crossing point and bus interchange stops at the Friargate/Ringway junction;

* Bus priority at the Corporation Street junction and a bus gate on Corporation Street;

* Cycle paths along Ringway, which would connect with Butler Street, Preston Railway Station and Avenham Park.

A package of new technology systems is also being planned to improve the operation of the city-wide road network. The technology would see bus priority systems installed along Ringway and elsewhere to allow efficient flow of bus services into the city.

Coun Keith Iddon, LCC's cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "These are really exciting plans for the development of the city centre and will boost its attractiveness and prosperity.

"We've already had discussions with a number of partners and stakeholders, but there is still a lot of work to do to ensure that the scheme is viable and works well for people and businesses in the area.

"As the plans are developed, we will be engaging with our key stakeholders to understand their requirements.

"When our plans are ready, we will undertake a public consultation so that we can hear from everyone who would like to comment. This will enable us to consider how the final plans need to look and what we need to take into account."

Coun Matthew Brown, leader of Preston City Council, said: “As we work toward making our city greener it is important we invest in infrastructure projects to encourage the use of public transport and walking.

“These proposals will be subject to extensive consultation with the community and our businesses and we’re excited to hear people’s views on how we can grow our city in an inclusive and environmentally sustainable way.”

Michael Ahern, UCLan chief information and infrastructure officer, added: "It is fantastic to see these plans start to take shape and marks another leap forward in transforming the infrastructure of Preston City Centre.

“UCLan is working closely with both the City and County Councils to ensure our £200m Masterplan links seamlessly with a shared vision of a modern, attractive city that will benefit the whole community both socially and economically.”

County Hall put in a bid of up to £182m from the Transforming Cities Fund, but only managed to secure less than a quarter of that.

The bid was supported by partner organisations from the public sector, including Preston City Council and South Ribble Borough Council, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and University of Central Lancashire and local bus and rail providers.