Preparations are being made to begin work on a key Wigan link road three years after plans were given the green light.
Wigan Council has released a tender for “mining ground investigations” ahead of the construction of the dual-carriageway between the A49 at Goose Green and Westwood Park to the south of Wigan town centre.
The preliminary work, which is set to begin in May, marks the start of the first phase of a £21.5m scheme to relieve congestion in Wigan.
The purpose of the investigation is to detect any underground mines which may influence the design of the proposed scheme but the council has insisted that it will not affect the proposed route which has been on the cards for years.
Mark Tilley, assistant director for infrastructure and regulatory services, said: “These are routine works to assess ground conditions at key locations of the road and will not have any impact on the route. The disruption will be kept to a minimum and we will inform affected residents.
“We remain committed to the project and improving the borough’s road network is a key part of Wigan Council’s economic growth strategy.
“The road will unlock land around the Poolstock area and Westwood – enabling new businesses to take advantage of a quality road network and helping us to achieve our aspiration to become the place to do business.
“It will also alleviate traffic from Poolstock Lane for local residents.”
As part of the probe, contractors will be required to establish the elevations and condition of any coal seams or mine-workings at specific locations along the proposed route, as well as groundwater conditions within the rock sequence.
When the road was first mooted, concerns were raised about its proximity to the abundant wildlife that makes Wigan Flashes its home, but reassurances have been given that it will have little environmental impact that way.
The link road is part of a much bigger project to create a major route roughly tracing the path of the long-proposed Route 225, joining the M6 at Orrell with the M61 at Westhoughton. At one time it was to have been constructed all in one go but the money has never been available and so small sections are being worked on separately, including a controversial stretch down from the M6 junction 26 to Highfield.