Could controversial barrier be reinstated in Wigan Council U-turn?

The barrier on Walthew House Lane before it was removed
The barrier on Walthew House Lane before it was removed

Council bosses have been urged to perform a U-turn on the removal of a traffic barrier amid fresh safety fears.

A leading councillor says the move earlier this year has resulted in a number of complaints about congestion and speeding in respective areas around Kitt Green.

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And residents living close to the Walthew House Lane site say they have witnessed a number of accidents along the newly opened stretch of road.

A traffic study will take place in the next few weeks, the council has confirmed, to assess the impact of the decision.

The town hall opened up the route to provide a link between Spring Road and Walthew House Lane, leading to the Martland Mill Business Park.

It had been prompted by concerns HGV drivers were posing a safety risk by using narrow residential streets to reverse having reached the barrier, possibly because their Sat-Navs were showing the route as a valid option.

But the proposal was contested by opposition councillors who said it would exacerbate congestion problems in neighbouring areas.

A resident who asked to remain anonymous said that drivers are ignoring the 20mph limit on the new stretch and there have been a handful of collisions.

“It’s horrendous,” she said.

“It’s like living next to the M6, lorries come off the industrial estate ignoring the 20mph signs and my house shakes.

“There’s tyre marks on the kerbs because there isn’t enough room for two to pass each other on that road.

“It should all be double yellow lines.

“There are vehicles parked up and it means those on the road have to go round them.”

The council said it had conducted its own traffic study, alongside Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) analysis, before the decision was made.

A further study will take place "shortly", the town hall said.

Elected members clashed last year during a committee meeting when the proposal was up for discussion.

Opposition councillors said it would add to congestion problems in Orrell because lorries would come off the M6/M58 interchange and travel through the town to use the new route created by the barrier removal.

But Labour members said it would provide "easement" by "splitting traffic" because it would offer an alternative route to the business park.

Coun Michael Winstanley, who represents Orrell, said the congestion concerns have proved to be well-founded.

The leader of the Tory opposition group said: “I have been inundated with complaints since the barrier was removed, the speed of the traffic round Walthew House Lane but also the amount of congestion that is now being seen on Gathurst Road.

“The level of traffic that we are seeing on Spring Road and Gathurst Road is now quite significant. At a time when we are meant to be improving air quality then it beggars belief that we have increased congestion to the Stag junction in Orrell.”

Mark Tilley, the council’s assistant director for infrastructure, said: “We remain committed to providing a quality and sustainable road network, but we understand that some people may have concerns about the changes to the road layout of Walthew House Lane and the impact these changes may have.

“Before the barrier was removed, TfGM evaluated the effects the changes could have on Orrell Road, Gathurst Road and Spring Road.

“This evaluation reported a low level of increased traffic, causing minimal impact on these routes.

“We also undertook our own study of the traffic conditions in the area, which is due to be repeated shortly following the removal of the barrier.”

Councillors had previously been told the width of the road – adjacent to the borough’s vast Heinz factory – was wide enough for two-way HGV traffic.

Coun Winstanley added: “I sincerely hope that the survey results in a recommendation to re-install the barrier and that common sense will prevail.”