New road relief

Traffic flowing through the newly opened Saddle Relief Road, Wigan
Traffic flowing through the newly opened Saddle Relief Road, Wigan

THIS week’s launch of a new Wigan route has brought double joy for drivers and residents alike.

As the newly named Southgate road finally opened yesterday morning, congestion and vehicle flow was eased, bringing an end to months of roadworks misery and chaos.

And as traffic leaving town will no longer use the narrow railway bridge on Wallgate near Kwik Fit, council chiefs can now finally start a £400,000 flood alleviation scheme in the Eleanor Street/Seven Stars area.

There will be new flood prevention tanks installed – both on the Seven Stars side of the road and alongside the brand new Southgate A49 route.

Eleanor Street has earned the unfortunate reputation as one of the most commonly-flooded roads in the borough.

And last night engineers had again stacked sandbags up against doors as further heavy rain battered the area.

Engineers have now moved outgoing traffic onto the new roadway so they can begin construction work on the flood defence scheme well before the road’s official opening in March 2013.

Residents on Eleanor Street are also being kept up to date of the progress of the defence scheme at meetings and with newsletters.

A council spokesman said: “Engineers stress that this vital work can only happen because outgoing vehicles will be using the new road and so, for now, traffic into town will remain as one lane only.

“Work will also continue on the existing old route out of town into the new year.”

And amid fresh fears of flooding overnight, senior managers are continuing to keep a very close eye on the Met Office data and rainfall predictions.”

Vehicles leaving Wigan will now use two lanes beyond the Tidy Britain building at Elizabeth House and the bus lane will also be removed beyond Swan Meadow Road.

Traffic entering Wigan from the Saddle going under the railway bridge will be unaffected but will eventually be opened up to two lanes in February when two lanes leading out of Wigan along Wallgate will also become fully operational.

Council officers have briefed the emergency services, bus companies and taxi firms about the new road layout - and Satnav firms have been advised to update their software.

A new acoustic barrier to cut traffic noise for locals, energy efficient LED lighting and hi-tech synchronised traffic signals were completed last week ahead of the traffic changes.