CHRISTMAS shoppers can look forward to less-stressful visits to our town centre.
The council’s economic chief confirmed today that the long awaited Saddle junction relief road, multi million pound Southgate, will now be open in time for the key jingle tills season.
Originally scheduled for the New Year, the news will be a significant boost for traders fighting the national spending down-turn.
Cabinet member for the economy Coun David Molyneux, who walked the route with engineers this week in preparation for the start of the installation of lighting and highways infra-structure, admits he is “delighted” by the rapid progress of the highway.
Although the road will make it easier for residents to get into town for their gift buying, he predicts that easier communications could also lead to a boost from visiting shoppers from outside the borough who may have been put off by the traffic difficulties, hopefully, of the past.
He said: “I am now quite confident that Southgate will be open in time for Christmas which is fantastic news for Wigan people looking forward to doing their shopping in Wigan and I am certain very good news for our town centre traders.
“If it is easier to get into and out of the the town centre at what is always going to be a bit of a stressful time, the experience is going to be more special and more enjoyable and people will do more of it.
“We already know that Wigan has one of the best shopper-retentions in Greater Manchester and I can only see this figure increasing now that this road is opening.”
The multi-million pound project to modernise the Saddle Junction includes the new two-lane link running east to west from Pottery Road to the Saddle Junction.
It was called Southgate in a nod to the old Norse word for town.
After preliminary work last year on the Saddle Junction roundabout, work began this spring on the new road from Wallgate, under the Wallgate/Kirby railway and out to The Saddle.
It will soon offer two lanes of traffic IN and two lanes OUT of town.
And has already opened up the land of the former FirstBus bus depot in Melverley Street for high profile development.
Neighbouring motor dealers Chorley Nissan have already expanded onto the site while the exciting performance-venue plan proposed by Today’s Community Church also continues to progress.