The package of six road and rail improvements is designed to boost economic growth over the next decade.
Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council joined together to create Transport for Lancashire after the government agreed to hand power to new local transport bodies as part of its localism agenda.
From 2015/16 Transport for Lancashire has the task of developing, approving and funding major transport schemes that were previously the remit of the Department for Transport (DfT). Transport for Lancashire is a committee of the LEP at which the leaders of each council meet with the LEP chairman and vice-chairman to ensure future transport schemes support economic development.
TfL has now outlined six schemes to be delivered by 2024/25 based on forecast funding allocations from the DfT, developer contributions, and the recently signed Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal (see previous report here).
The approved schemes are:
- £58m towards the estimated £90m total construction cost of a new road linking the M55 near Bartle with the A583 near Clifton to support development of new housing in North West Preston and improve links to the Enterprise Zone site at Warton. This scheme forms part of the City Deal.
- £15.1m towards the estimated £23.7m total construction cost of delivering the A6 Broughton Bypass, a new road to ease congestion on one of the main routes into north Preston, supporting housing and business development in one of the key areas for growth identified by the LEP. This is also part of the City Deal.
- £2.8m towards the estimated £3.2m total cost of vital maintenance to the Centenary Way viaduct which carries the principal A682 road through the centre of Burnley.
- £16.4m towards the estimated £18.2m total cost of improving access to the national rail network from Blackpool, Fleetwood and Cleveleys, by extending the new tramway from the Promenade at North Pier to Blackpool North railway station.
In Blackburn with Darwen:
- £12.4m towards the estimated £13.8m total cost of a scheme to improve the standard and frequency of trains operating between Blackburn and Manchester by doubling parts of the track between Bolton and Blackburn.
- £1.8m towards the estimated £2m total cost of a scheme to cut congestion and support the Haslingden Road, Walker Park, Roman Road and Shadsworth industrial estates. Includes widening Haslingden Road, adding traffic lights at junctions and upgrading mini roundabouts.
The top six priorities were selected from a list of 24 candidate schemes. Consultants were employed to assess them, dividing them into four blocks based on their contribution to the economy, environmental and social impacts, likely value for money, and deliverability.
Further schemes will form a development pool. One of these schemes, to complete the A59 Penwortham Bypass between Broad Oak roundabout and Howick Cross, is part of the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal and will now come forward as a priority under the wider City Deal funding arrangements.
The further five schemes in the development pool, which will be brought forward should circumstances change or further funding opportunities emerge, are:
- Construction of a new single carriageway road from the A6068 Vivary Way in Colne to the A56 north of Foulridge.
- Major programme of maintenance works for the Greyhound Bridge in Lancaster, to include replacement of joints, resurfacing, waterproofing and concrete repair.
- Major maintenance to improve a number of bridges that are in poor condition and unable to carry heavy loads.
- A major maintenance scheme to Yeadon Way, which connects the M55 motorway with the extensive car parking areas in Blackpool town centre and is of critical importance to the resort's economy. Significant repairs are needed to bridges, embankments and the road structure.
- Upgrade to M65 Junction 4 at Earcroft to introduce traffic signals and ensure traffic can exit the M65 without excessive queuing. Associated improvements would be made to access into the Chapels area to support Blackburn with Darwen Council's housing and economic development plans for Darwen.
Further work will be carried out on all of the schemes initially considered for the investment programme. Where appropriate these will be taken into account as part of the county council's highways and transport master planning exercise.
The priority schemes have now been submitted to the Department for Transport while the councils do further work to prepare the business cases to fund them. Each scheme will have to undergo full appraisal and demonstrate that it will achieve value for money in order to eventually receive funding.