Primary school children will be forced to walk down a major Wigan road for the next 18 months as a public footpath is closed to make way for a multi-million pound link road.
Pupils at Worsley Mesnes Primary School who use the cut through Worsley Mesnes Drive and Holt Street will face a footpath closure, forcing them on to Poolstock Lane.
The ‘Smithy Brook’ path, which includes a footbridge over Smith Brooke, has now been fenced off and signs have been erected informing the public that the route will be closed for the next year and a half as work on the A49 link road progresses.
A council spokesperson said: “There is a full diversion route in place for pedestrians while works are ongoing and we apologise for any inconvenience this will cause.
“Unfortunately the contractors have advised us it is necessary to have the path closed for 18 months for the safety of local residents.
“There are school crossing patrol officers on Poolstock who can help children safely cross the road and we are in discussion with the contractor to see if there are any additional mitigation measures they can put in place to help parents walking to school.”
Proposals have been in the pipeline for the £21.5m A49 link, connecting Chapel Lane with Warrington Road, since it was given a conditional approval in 2015.
An email to residents has also revealed that the path between Manse Gardens and Worsley Mesnes Drive will be closed for an estimated two months during summer next year - almost doubling the journey through the new Wainwright development to the school.
Concerned residents have taken to social media to voice their views on the new diversion.
Helen June, said: “It’s going to add a long walk for many children. Mine included.
“It’s awful and will be 18 months before any usual delays. But if they are going to have heavy vehicles going around it won’t be safe for anyone to be near.”
Chrissy Mason added: “My friend, who has lung cancer, had to walk the long way round today to get to the doctors. It’s just not on.”
In a letter sent out to residents last month, the council explains the “preparatory” work has been completed and “main construction works” will now begin.
The work currently taking place by Jones Bros, the contractors, includes establishing site boundaries, site access points, welfare facilities and temporary haul roads along the route.
From November, construction on the road adjacent to the The Tipping Arms pub on Poolstock Lane will begin, including works at the Smithy Brook Bridge and Poolstock Lane Bridge.
In early 2019, works will commence at Scotmans Canal Bridge and Lion Bridge.
The letter adds: “We hope this road will relieve congestion and improve travel times for residents and businesses, providing an alternative route for commuters and residents travelling into Wigan town centre.”