I’D never really got my head around how the Saddle Relief Road was going to work.
Having seen what few infrastructure projects we’ve had over the last 20 years make little significant differences (well, positive ones at least) to Wigan’s congestion problems, I have to say I was rather sceptical.
After all the tinkerings with road lay-outs in log-jammed Hindley, few can honestly say that vehicles have an easier time than of yore.
And so many of the more ambitious projects – such as Route 225 from Westhoughton to Orrell, the completion of the Wigan town centre ring road from Robin Park to Frog Lane or the new route running from Marus Bridge to Westwood to ease Poolstock traffic - have continuously failed to materialise during good economic times and bad.
So when it was announced that there was going to be a short piece of carriageway between Pottery Road and the Saddle at Newtown, I couldn’t see its worth to be honest, although the freeing up of land for a new 1,000-seater concert hall next to Today’s Christian Church was certainly a bonus.
But how wrong I was!
From my experience it has made a whole heap of difference and quite a few folk I know have come up to me to say the same. Those long queues from the Saddle way back to the Chapel Lane end of Caroline Street are now something of a rarity. Readings taken by council engineers bear this out too, showing journey times and queue lengths have been slashed since the £12m Southgate was fully opened a month ago.
Not only does it mean Wiganers are going to be less stressed on car journeys, less petrol will be used and the town made rather more attractive to investors if they can see that freight and customer routes aren’t often at a complete standstill.