Construction of the £17.5m Penwortham Bypass has officially started following a ground-breaking ceremony earlier today (Tuesday, 9 January).
The new road will complete the Penwortham Bypass, linking the A59 Liverpool Road to the A582 at Broad Oak Roundabout, improving journey times and reliability for journeys into and out of the city centre and destinations beyond, and reducing congestion and queuing through the centre of Penwortham, especially at peak times.
County Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, leader of Lancashire County Council put the first spade in the ground to mark the start of construction, which is expected to take around two years. Most of the work will take place off the existing highway network.
At the launch Councillor Driver was joined by Jim Carter, Chair of the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal; Councillor Peter Mullineaux, leader of South Ribble Borough Council; Councillor Peter Moss from Preston City Council and Stuart Sage from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
Once completed, the bypass is anticipated to carry approximately 22,000 vehicles per day. Traffic volumes on several surrounding roads, such as the A59, Lindle Lane and Pope Lane, are expected to reduce by up to 70% during peak times.
This reduction in traffic, once the bypass has opened, will enable the centre of Penwortham to benefit from improvements to the public realm, as well as improvements to cycling, walking and public transport facilities.
The school playing fields at All Hallows Catholic High School will be relocated and improved as part of the bypass work, providing them with better drainage and easier access from the school.
The new bypass will also provide opportunities for new bus priority measures along the A59, between Hutton and the city. People will be able to have their say on these proposals.
The Penwortham Bypass is one of several major road schemes being funded through the £434m Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal.
City Deal is an agreement between Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and Preston City Council, South Ribble Borough Council and Lancashire County Council, along with central government and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
The plans for the bypass have been developed by the county council in consultation with the borough council, local businesses and organisations, and local residents.
The construction is being carried out by the county council's own highway service.
County Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, leader of the county council, said: "This is a huge step forward in delivering this new road, which has been talked about for many years. Local people have put up with congestion for too long through the town, and I'm pleased that construction is underway.
"The Penwortham Bypass is a key City Deal project to connect the A59 with the improved A582, which is in the process of being widened to add capacity in this part of South Ribble.
"We know that there will be some disruption while the road is being built and we ask people to bear with us during the construction, because it will be worth it in the end."
Jim Carter, Chair of the City Deal, said: "We're bringing together the public sector and the private sector to improve your communities, make this a thriving area for everyone and make the most of this once in a generation opportunity.
"Our City Deal is achieving a huge amount. We've completed the widening of Golden Way, improved five major junctions along the A582, opened James Towers Way in Broughton, and recently had planning approval for the Preston Western Distributor and the East-West Link Road.
"Beyond new road building, we're working hard to finish public realm improvements in the city, in Bamber Bridge and New Hall Lane, and we're seeing real progress in delivering Preston Bus Station improvements and a major new development site at Cuerden.
"We'll continue working hard to bring even more improvements in the future, with the key aims of helping people to get around, transforming the area and bringing in new jobs and economic growth."
Councillor Peter Mullineaux, Leader of South Ribble Borough Council, said: “The bypass has been talked about in South Ribble for the last 20 to 30 years and it’s a momentous occasion that we’ve been able to get the first spade in the ground today.
“The new route will not only bring huge benefits to Penwortham, but the whole surrounding area, and it unlocks the opportunity for significant regeneration in the town – similar to the scheme we’ve already seen get underway in Bamber Bridge.
“The bypass is a fantastic example of the real opportunities offered under City Deal and we’ll be working really closely with residents and businesses in Penwortham to help create a thriving town centre with a new lease of life.”
Jake Berry MP, Northern Powerhouse Minister, said: “I’m proud that City Deal funding is delivering major transport improvements to Penwortham while helping to cut journey times and alleviate congestion. The Government is working hand-in-hand with local councils to deliver faster, better connected transport networks throughout the Northern Powerhouse, driving forward growth, creating more better-paid jobs and ensuring the Northern Powerhouse is fit for the future.”
The City Deal will help to create more than 20,000 new private sector jobs and see over 17,000 new homes built across the area, along with new school places, open green spaces and new health provision to cater for the growing population.