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Road Going Nowhere?

Road Going NowhereWe've been following the story of the 'Fylde Coast Easterly By-Pass' since it unfolded again in October 2006 (You can see details in 'Red and Yellow and' and 'Road Relief..... For Some!'

Readers will remember the Government's original plan 20 years ago, was to relieve pressure on the North/South roads through Blackpool, by taking traffic off the Promenade, Whitegate Drive, Devonshire Road and other congested routes.

In effect, the old Red Route, in its first incarnation, was a 'Blackpool by-pass.'

For a variety of reasons, including environmental damage at Marton Mere, and a huge costly flyover at the junction with Garstang Road, it was abandoned.

Then 20 years later, in 2006, a new relief road was proposed.

This road was intended to provide a quicker and more direct route to Fleetwood from the motorway - so the regeneration of Fleetwood as a commercial and industrial centre could move up a gear.

But two problems arose to confound this new idea.

First, the combined attraction of Fleetwood's Freeport and the ever popular Fleetwood Market, coupled with some new residential development in the outskirts of Thornton have, in the intervening years, combined to produce a traffic congestion on the existing A585 that is reaching unbearable proportions. The stretch from Windy Harbour to Catlows and Mains Lane especially, is gridlocked in summer. There is a real need to do something about this problem.

Second, the road planners, (foolishly in our view), included the old Red Route (or a modified version of it), as one of the options for the new road.

We say this was foolish because it entirely confused the purpose of the proposed road.

People - many people - thought this was also a relief road for existing traffic, just as the old Red Route had been.

In fact it was nothing of the sort. It's real purpose was to INCREASE the traffic capacity, not relieve it.

The new road had five options which you can see on this map

counterbalance attended some of the meetings and exhibitions about the road, and spoke with experts and folk affected by some of the routes. It was quite clear that the Yellow Route was the one favoured by the professionals and Government because it best did the job they wanted the road to do - increase the traffic capacity, particularly for industrial traffic, to Fleetwood

Understandably, those affected badly by the Yellow Route were upset, especially around the attractive conservation area of Singleton.

So a preference for the Blue Route began to develop locally.

This might be because it had the least impact on human habitation, or it may be some other reason(s), but however it arose, Fylde, Wyre and Blackpool Councils, together with Lancashire County Council, eventually became persuaded to back the Blue route.

In some instances this support also proposed that it's junction with the M55 should be revised to meet at the existing Marton Junction (Jct 4).

Whilst potentially benefiting more local residents in the outskirts of Blackpool, this arrangement would have been far less attractive to HGV drivers heading past the Kirkham turn when intending to reach Fleetwood.

The consensus view seemed to be that Fleetwood-bound traffic would probably not continue to Junction 4 at Marton, but would leave on the A585 at the Kirkham junction as it had always done.

Having seen the exhibitions, it was clear this was not an acceptable option to the traffic engineers, or to Government, so we were not altogether surprised when they decided last month that a road to Heysham (which might well become one of the new breed of nuclear power stations, and need a new road to get all the building materials in and out), had a higher priority, and would go ahead instead.

It is widely believed that the A585 will not be reconsidered for another 20 years, at least so far as the Blue Route is concerned.

So it's not clear whether this is a good thing or a bad one.

On the positive side, no-one's home is going to be ruined by a new road being built near to it anytime soon.

On the other hand, Fleetwood isn't going to get its regeneration - at least not to the same extent as would otherwise have been the case - an arguably the congestion on the A585 is set to grow worse over the next 20 years.

The possibility of some improvements along the way remain, of course, but it's not likely to be along the way of the Blue Route, and if the Government's preferred route remains yellow, it will be interesting to see which, if any of the road lines gets protected in the local plans for Fylde and Wyre.

We're not sure if we will be around in 20 years, so this might be our last comment on the matter.

Dated:  12 March 2008


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