Cash for congestion-busting projects slashed

Congestion on Warrington Road
Congestion on Warrington Road

NO MAJOR new roads will be built in Wigan for years to come.

That was the stark prediction made today as council chiefs face up to the austerity measures on the borough’s transport ambitions.

The Government announced in November that the long-awaited £30m completion of the town’s Inner Relief Road is to be shelved indefinitely.

And an authority source admitted that leaders believe that no other projects that could ease the borough’s notorious and off-putting congestion problems and open up new land for investment are likely to go ahead in the foreseeable future.

In some cases this is the latest setback in incredibly long sagas. The Relief Road completion itself, which would run from the Saddle junction at Newtown to Frog Lane, has been waiting in the wings for 23 years already.

And various manifestations of what was originally called Route 225 (linking the M6 at Orrell to the M61 at Westhoughton) have been on the books but then repeatedly knocked back since the late 1940s!

The authorities have all but given up on building it in one piece and the last time the route – latterly known as the A5225 – was revised it was shorn of its section between Westhoughton and Atherleigh Way.

However some supporters hope that it can be constructed piecemeal and one section was to have been a dual carriageway between the A49 at Goose Green and Westwood Park which, even if it doesn’t become home one day to the China-supported Fashion City textile development centre, is intended for major industrial investment.

But it looks like for now that the only new roads to be built will be those constructed by private developers putting up new housing estates.

There are road enhancement plans still on the cards, particularly to the east of the borough, and barring any last-minute U-turns work should still begin on improvements to the Saddle Junction which includes creating a new road running onto Wallgate from near the Adam Bridge off Gower Street.

The source said: “No-one is under any illusions – there is very little likelihood of any major new roads’ being built in the next few years. It is a blow because new roads can encourage investors, both because they open up neglected or hitherto unused land for development and because they keep traffic moving and so make the place a more attractive investment proposition. Having a more fluid network also of course makes Wigan borough more attractive to visitors and shoppers.”

But the official line from various bodies is to make the most of a far from ideal situation.

Wigan Council’s director of development Steve Normington said: “The council recognises the concerns of road users about the amount of traffic, which is why we have worked to encourage walking to school, install intelligent traffic lights and support other ways to cut traffic. However, we also are keen to see investment in new roads where we can. The Saddle junction scheme will be a significant improvement and, together with the Wigan Wallgate project, will offer an attractive gateway to Wigan.”