Work has begun on preparing for the controversial re-opening of a Wigan highway.
For years a gate has barred traffic’s passage from Spring Road to the Martland Park industrial estate via Walthew House Lane.
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It was put up to stop motorists, including heavy lorries, from using the route down the side of the HJ Heinz factory as a rat run to the commerce park and thence to Wigan town centre.
But it meant that this funnelled the traffic along the more heavily residential Prescott Lane, Kitt Green Road and Marsh Green instead.
Residents on these latter roads have been calling for the barrier to be lifted for years because they are fed up of HGVs thundering past their homes (and over speed bumps) at all hours.
However, Spring Road and Walthew House Lane home owners fear the gate’s lifting will ramp up the numbers of vehicles in the area, not least because traffic lights will control flow onto
Scot Lane rather than the Marsh Green roundabout which holds up traffic for longer at peak times.
And there are now a lot more people living off Walthew, thanks to the building of a new housing estate on the site of the former Heinz social club 13 years ago, than there were when the barrier went up.
It was in late summer of 2016 that a consultation was held in the area over proposals to get rid of the gate and, unsurprisingly, it received a mixed reaction.
Since then there have been delays while Transport for Greater Manchester had its say, but Wigan Council’s regulation committee has since approved the lifting and a spokeswoman said that preparatory work would be starting before the end of this month.
She added: “In response to concerns raised by residents we are bringing in these measures that will help to alleviate the problems that they have been facing.
“The measures include a new mini-roundabout, resurfacing works around the barrier and the introduction of 20mph speed limits and double yellow lines in the coming months.
“Once these measures are in place the barrier will then be removed.
“We are making these changes to protect the safety of residents as that is our number one priority.
“Working with Transport for Greater Manchester we will monitor the impact of the changes and are keeping residents informed of all the work taking place.”
A Kitt Green Road resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “I am delighted. This move is long overdue.
“For years the residential road outside our house has been used like a motorway.
“They put speed bumps down to slow folk down but the off-shoot of that is that they make the lorries even noisier when they are roaring past.
“I know there are houses down Walthew House Lane but nowhere near as many as down here - most of the ‘new’ route is industrial estate. It makes sense.”
But a Walthew House Lane resident said: “This is very sad. They are turning what has been, in effect, a cul-de-sac into a main road.
“The value of our houses will fall as a result.”