Council’s £20million pothole pledge

Gone to pot

Gone to pot

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WIGAN Council has pledged £20m to keep the borough’s roads fit for use.

A new six-year plan shows the authority has been awarded the money by the Department for Transport to spend on improvements to roads, footways, cycleways, bridges and lighting when needs arise.

These schemes are essential parts of our town centre regeneration and form part of our on-going plans to improve transport facilities for our community

Mark Tilley - assistant director for infrastructure

That includes keeping on top of the borough’s pothole menace.

And if the council uses the cash wisely within its deadline, it gets an extra £2,784,392 through the incentive funding programme.

Most of the money will be used on upgrading the borough’s beleaguered network of roads, with 82 per cent from 2015/16 to 2017/18 and 75 per cent in the second wave between 2018/19 and 2020/21.

Bridges are the next biggest priority, with 15 per cent of the cake and lighting gets two per cent.

Foot and cycle paths will be ignored in the first stage but nine per cent of the cash will be used from 2018/19.

With this new money, the council has earmarked the following projects:

A £2.5m scheme to improve the Rodney Street/Riverway junction between the Wigan Life Centre and the new Premier Inn. This will help traffic flow and make it safer and easier for pedestrians to cross Riverway.

A sum of £850,000 will be used to improve the New Market Street/Market Street junction outside Wigan and Leigh College. This will make walking for pedestrians between the shops including the new Galleries scheme and the bus station and the college, Deanery High School, the Wigan Youth Zone and Mesnes Park, much safer and easier. It will also enhance accessibility in the northern part of the town centre.

And £400,000 will be used for environmental improvements in the Poolstock area to complement the opening of the new A49 link road. The new road will significantly reduce the amount of traffic using Poolstock, currently one of the most congested roads in the borough and the funding for environmental improvements along the old road such as tree planting or cycleway improvements, will make a real difference for the local community.

There is also around £1m identified for improving cycling facilities into and around Wigan town centre.

The council will be given between £3.8m and £3.4m in each of the first three years, going down to around £3.1m for each of the following three.

But as the authority’s improvement schemes get under way, it will be given more cash each year through the incentive funding programme, rising from £213,000 to £319,800 between 2016/17 and 2018/19.

In the second wave of funds (2018/19 to 2020/21), £750,464 will be awarded each year.

The purse of up to £23m does not include any funding Wigan might get for creating new roads.

In a bid to conserve costs, the council has successfully implemented a £1.9m Invest to Save project aimed at the preservation of residential roads by using preventative maintenance work, which has improved their overall condition.

The authority is also delivering a three-year £11.8m Invest to Save Street Lighting LED project which will replace all of the existing street lanterns with new LED units which reduce the annual energy costs, carbon emissions and planned maintenance costs.

Mark Tilley, Wigan Council’s assistant director for infrastructure, said: “Wigan Council wants to maintain its roads so that they are fit for the future.

“However, it recognises the need to deliver this service more efficiently and against a backdrop of tighter budgets, increased costs and greater demand from customers.”

Councillor David Molyneux, Wigan Council’s deputy leader, said: “As part of The Deal, Wigan Council is committed to investing in the borough’s infrastructure to help people get around more easily.

“This package of schemes greatly complements our much larger proposed projects such as the new A49 link road and the new bus station and will provide much safer and easier connections for pedestrians, as well as benefiting car users.

“These schemes are essential parts of our town centre regeneration and form part of our on-going plans to improve transport facilities for our community.”