Councillors have given the green light to begin talks with affected householders over controversial plans for the M58 link road.
Angry residents living on the Meadowbrook estate have strenously opposed the three routes, fearing their homes will be in jeopardy by compulsory purchase orders (CPO).
Behind closed doors, Wigan Council’s cabinet has now approved the formal process for the CPO process, covering the M6 eastern roundabout section, at junction 26, the M58 Link Road and the Pemberton link from Billinge Road to Smithy Brook Road.
Cabinet members have also recommended to full council that £3.2m should be released to develop the ambitious scheme, for which a planning application was lodged last September.
Later an offical contractor for the works will be announced, following a competitive tendering exercise.
In the cabinet minutes, it is stated council directors have been authorised to begin “negotiations with landowners setting out the terms for the withdrawal of objections to the compulsory purchase and/or the classified road/side roads order including where appropriate seeking exclusion of land or new rights for the Orders and/or making arrangements for relocation of occupier.”
Last week it was confirmed that Highways England would be contributing a share of £8m towards the overall costs of the project, which should “improve east-west connectivity” across Wigan.
It is envisaged that single roads, of around 2.3km and 1.4km in length, will ultimately be created, and Leopold Street will be widened and upgraded.
The go-ahead has also been given to various advance works, to enable the link roads to eventually be constructed.
Councillors said they were “pleased” that the project was proceeding according to timetable.
Estate residents have also voiced ongoing concerns that their access to a number of side roads will be compromised by the link.
One of the borough’s development chiefs is adamant that the M58 Link Road will provide a major boost to Wigan’s economy.
Smoother journeys between the two motorways have been pledged, as well as the prospect that the route will act as a prominent gateway to the town centre.
Reacting to the funding pledge, Coun David Molyneux, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “This is a fantastic boost for Wigan Borough and means we are one step closer to delivering the much-needed M58 link road.
“The road will relieve traffic problems on one of our busiest commuter routes and provide better connections for residents and businesses to access jobs, therefore giving a boost to the economy.
“It’s crucial for the growth of the local economy and for the borough that we have a transport infrastructure that is fit for the future and works for us all in the years and decades ahead.”