Wigan Pier traffic chaos is "damaging local business"
And they fear that some of the permanent changes to the stretch of Wallgate between the junctions with Miry Lane and Queen Street could have a long-lasting impact on trade too.
The 20-week project to install new cycling and walking facilities, improve lighting and create better crossings began at the beginning of August and Wigan Council said that following a public consultation, the local reaction had proved to be largely favourable.
But since the work began in earnest and traffic flow has been seriously impaired, a number of local employers say they have experienced a drop-off in custom and other problems.
And they fear that with putting a “no entry sign” at Miry Lane’s junction with Wallgate will cause more congestion and spoil trade.
Paul Ledson, director of Ledsons Motor Factors on Great George Street said: “We have definitely had trouble with these works. A two-minute trip to the Seven Stars Garage on Wallgate is now taking 20.
“I definitely think that some customers have been put off by all this. If I was going to go and buy something then came across this traffic, I would be leaving it.”
Carole King from the Seven Stars garage on Wallgate said: “It’s a nightmare down here with it all. Customers are not coming because they can’t get through and it’s taking the lads from Hindley who work here until 7pm to get home.
“And with the closing of Miry Lane, that’s just going to cause more traffic chaos and deter custom. Budget on Wilcock Street told us he was shutting this week because there was no point staying open while these works were going on.”
John Chadwick of CMC Aquatics in Miry Lane said: “The traffic is horrendous. Sometimes it is taking us and customers three quarters of an hour to get from Asda to here.
“And for what? I think this project is a sheer waste of money.
“They are putting cycle lanes everywhere but they are hardly ever used. It’ll just lead to more traffic jams and pollution as motor vehicles are made to take longer, slower routes.
“It’s too early to say how this project will affect our business - we’ll just have to wait and see, but it will surely damage passing trade.”
A spokeswoman for Enterprise Car and Van Hire on Wallgate said: “It’s adding a lot of time onto what we can do.
“We have a delivery and collection service and we only have six people on that so when journey times are taking so much longer due to the works, we are more limited. It’s adding half an hour onto each delivery and limiting the number of customers visiting. We are having to notify customers of long delays getting to the branch.”
And Gary Hitchmough, owner of the BN Dynamix vehicle repair shop on Wallgate, said: “People are booking in their vehicle and then not turning up.
“We are averaging about three a day failing to arrive.
“It’s never been like this before. I don’t know if they are taking their business elsewhere but it’s certainly damaging our trade.
“And I’m not sure that all these works are worth it.”
One of the aims of the improvements is to connect with the cycle facilities at Saddle Junction and will be another step forward in joining up the Greater Manchester Bee Network.
Becca Heron, director for economy and skills at Wigan Council said: “Our teams work hard to ensure all of our major projects are brought forward in collaboration with the public and those any changes will directly affect.
“We consulted businesses prior to works starting on the Road to Wigan Pier to gauge what impact the permanent closure of Miry Lane would have on their trade.
“We also held meetings with anybody who wanted to discuss the scheme in more detail.
“The feedback we received did help us to shape the final scheme, which will better connect the Pier Quarter with the town centre and will support the regional ambitions to make walking and cycling safer and more attractive modes of transport.
“Motorists can still access the business estate through Wilcock Street, Clayton Street, Great George Street, however, we appreciate the changes will lead to a period of adjustment.
“We are working closely with business owners throughout construction and are supporting them with extra signage to make it clearer for motorists where the alternative routes are.
“We’re also making it a priority to meet businesses on site to go through their questions and concerns. Of course, we’re open to further suggestions and we can discuss this with business owners directly.”
Fears that parking restrictions are to be placed on Wilcock Street and that the junction allowing traffic coming into town along Wallgate to double back towards the Swan Meadow Road junction is to be permanently closed were dismissed.
New pedestrian and cycle crossings are proposed at the following locations:
Across Wallgate, near Haig Street, at the main entrance to the Wigan Pier Development
Across the in- and outbound carriageways of Wallgate at the junction with Miry Lane
The crossings proposed above will replace some of the existing crossings, which will be removed from:
The in- and outbound carriageway of Wallgate, near Bridgewater Street
Southgate, near Swan Meadow Road
Wallgate, near Haig Street
Other proposals include:
Improvements to the junction of Wallgate with Caroline Street to include cycle crossing facilities. A
traffic lane will be removed between Queen Street and Caroline Street for vehicles travelling away
from the town centre to provide space for the cycling facility. Traffic modelling shows this will not have
a significant impact on traffic flows.
Improved street lighting and new tree lights to enhance the environment
More benches along Wallgate to provide resting points
More trees and planting to improve the environment and provide shade
Pedestrian and cycle priority across Clayton Street at the junction with Wallgate.
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