Jam-busting new bypass drives motorists into more road chaos in Penwortham
Highways bosses haven’t taken such a bashing since they introduced “shared space” and the Fishergate bus lane.
County Hall’s latest blockbuster road scheme was meant to uncork one of Lancashire’s worst bottlenecks - but straight away it created a few new ones of its own.
The £17.5m Penwortham Bypass was unveiled on Monday to the delight of residents living along the town’s choked main street.
But no sooner had the exhaust fumes vanished from the A59 than drivers were complaining of suffocating gridlock on the alternative routes.
Penwortham Way, Golden Way, Cop Lane, Lindle Lane, Leyland Road and an assortment of residential streets were all blocked as motorists tried to find a way around the chaos.
Many rush hour travellers were late for work or school yesterday on the first morning rush hour of the new layout.
Hundreds took to social media to blast the planners for causing what they saw as mayhem.
Comments ranged from “absolute chaos,” “madness,” “shocking,” “a total joke,” “complete nightmare,” and “another shambles,” to “what are LCC thinking about?”
And all that road planners at Lancashire County Council could do was take a deep breath - as they had done with Fishergate’s never-ending problems - take the criticism on the chin and appeal to road users to be patient while the scheme beds in.
Ridwan Musa, area highway manager, said: “Following the opening of the new John Horrocks Way yesterday, we started the final construction work for this scheme on Liverpool Road. Please bear with us for a few weeks, until this has been done.
“We are aware that there have been some issues on the road network yesterday and today, with queuing at times on some local roads. There is a signed diversion in place along Golden Way, which reduces the need for people to use smaller residential roads.
“There are many signs up around Penwortham to let people know about this road closure, including on key approach roads, and we publicised these changes through the media, social media and newsletters.
“We ask motorists to please be aware that the road layout has changed in this area, as this could affect their usual route and allow more time while this final work is taking place on Liverpool Road.
“The aim of the new bypass is to reduce traffic along Liverpool Road through the centre of Penwortham, which has had congestion issues at peak times for many years.”
Drivers reported problems within minutes of the new John Horrocks Way getting up and running mid-morning on Monday. But it wasn’t so much the opening of the bypass as the closure of Liverpool Road and also the sliproad to the flyover at the bottom of Penwortham Hill which caused the trouble.
Traffic still poured into Penwortham town centre from the Preston end, with a steady stream of HGVs, presumably following satnav, finding they had driven into a brand new cul-de-sac.
Locals reported hundreds of vehicles doing U-turns when they found their route towards Hutton blocked. But instead of retracing their steps back along Liverpool Road and down the hill to join Golden Way via Leyland Road, many took to residential streets like Central Drive, Blackthorne Drive and Bank Top in an attempt to reach the Brown Hare roundabout.
The reconfigured intersection, near to Booths supermarket, proved a real headache for some motorists who claimed they couldn’t fathom the new lanes layout.
One confused driver was even seen mounting the footpath and squeezing through a gap in the traffic lights.
At one point traffic from Longton, attempting to join Liverpool Road en route to the bypass, found the A59 gridlocked.
Some claimed traffic lights at the Booths end of the bypass were only allowing up to a dozen vehicles through at a time from the new road, causing tailbacks all the way to the Anchor roundabout at Hutton.
WHAT DRIVERS SAID
Social media was buzzing with complaints from angry motorists stuck in the mayhem.
One, Warren Bolton, wrote at 8.30am: “There are a lot of people going to be late in. Cars end-to-end from Brown Hare. (They’ve) just moved the problem.”
Margan Ashworth complained: “It has just taken me 20 minutes to get out of Lindle Lane and onto Penwortham Way. The traffic heading towards Broad Oak bumper to bumper all the way back past the recycling centre and beyond. It’s madness!”
Another, Toni Cadwell, said: “Took forever this morning. Will it get better once Penwortham opens again? Can’t handle that every morning.”
Paul Betts said simply: “Chaos. Confusion. Worse than before.”
Susan Houghton had sympathy for the shopkeepers in Penwortham town centre who are now without any passing trade while the A59 is closed for up to three weeks at Howick.
“Just been into Penwortham,” she said. “Eerily quiet. Few businesses wondering where their lunchtime customers were. Hope that’s just a blip for them.”
Mark Dobson’s thoughts were with those living in normally peaceful residential streets. “Traffic nuisance, noise and excessive traffic speeds through Central Drive and Bank Top Road. What were LCC thinking?”
But not everyone was scathing about the new road and the people who have designed it - experts predict up to 70 per cent of traffic could be removed from Penwortham centre and air quality will be vastly improved.
“Bored of people moaning after one day, before it’s all even complete,” wrote Roger Brindle. “It will be a big improvement.”
Michael Coulson said: “It’s bound to have teething problems. For goodness sake people, give it a chance.”
Another, Graham Willans, wrote: “Some folk need to get a grip and wait for the completion.”
Emma Robinson said she had driven back home on Monday afternoon and the trip was “much better with the new road. I appreciate it’s going to be a difficult three weeks for some Penwortham residents, but it’s only three weeks. People are acting like it’s permanent.”
James Cameron Hughes added: “Blimey, there’s a load of moaners in Preston. Whatever is done seems to attract moaners. Go to Bristol or Cardiff and you’ll see the same problems.”
And Julie Louise put it into perspective saying: “If this is the most terrible problem in your life you are blessed!”