WORK will start next week to prepare the ground for a long-awaited scheme to free up one of Preston's worst congestion hotspots.
A full scheme of improvements will take place this summer to add capacity to the Broughton Roundabout at the junction of the A6 and M55 to help it to cope with more traffic and reduce delays. The improvements will also make it safer to use for pedestrians and cyclists.
Activity will begin near the roundabout on Monday 25 February ahead of the main works, with hedging and trees next to the A6 between D'urton Lane and the roundabout due to be removed, followed by further preliminary work to move pipes and cables.
The main works, expected to take four to five months to complete, are scheduled to start early in the summer to take advantage of school holidays and reduce the impact of disruption as far as possible. Work will be restricted to off-peak hours and overnight when traffic is at its lightest.
Congestion at the roundabout causes peak-time tailbacks which regularly lead to traffic queuing back onto the M55 and M6 motorways, as well as the A6 Garstang Road and the nearby junction with Eastway.
The improvements will:
• Widen the northbound carriageway of the A6 to the south of the junction and provide three rather than two lanes onto the roundabout.
• Widen the southbound carriageway of the A6 north of the roundabout to provide an extra lane solely for access to the motorway.
• Upgrade the current traffic signals to provide controls at every junction.
• Add further traffic signals at the junction of Eastway and the A6 Garstang Road.
• Introduce pedestrian-controlled crossings to provide a safer crossing point for pedestrians and cyclists on the west side of the junction.
The design takes into account concerns raised through previous consultations, with the current pedestrian subways on the east side of the junction remaining in place. A final design will be made available as soon as possible and shared with the local community and other organisations.
Negotiations are well advanced with developers of nearby housing schemes to secure contributions towards the work, adding to the contributions from the county council and the Highways Agency. The estimated cost of the scheme is £2.6m.
The improvements to the roundabout represent an integral part of work to tackle congestion on the A6 corridor at Broughton, and the potential creation of a bypass for Broughton has been taken into account in the design, limiting the need for further major works to the roundabout in the future.
County Councillor Tim Ashton, Cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "Broughton roundabout is a key gateway for the north of Preston and this investment is vital to ensure people's journeys do not become unmanageable as traffic levels continue to grow.
"We're already planning for the further improvements to our transport infrastructure that will be needed to support future economic growth in this area, which are outlined in the Highways and Transport Masterplan for Central Lancashire.
"This scheme is the first in that plan to become a reality and, while there will be some disruption in the short term while the work takes place, it is essential if we're to keep traffic moving and avoid Broughton becoming gridlocked."
The county council is continuing preparatory work on the Broughton bypass scheme, with an application to renew planning permission expected in July 2013. Site investigations, discussions with landowners affected by the scheme, and talks with developers who could contribute to the cost, will continue during 2013, with detailed engineering drawings due in place by the end of the year.
Running in parallel, a study looking into alternative options as an interim or permanent response to congestion at Broughton, is due to report shortly with an announcement expected in March 2013.