Fear of gridlock as Promenade shuts

Roadworks on Blackpool Promenade

Roadworks on Blackpool Promenade

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ONE of Blackpool’s busiest routes is to close this weekend leading to fears the resort will be left in “gridlock”.

Blackpool Council will shut the Promenade to all traffic between Adelaide Street West and Talbot Square on Sunday – with pleas for patience and diversions in place.

The major thoroughfare is already closed southbound between Gynn Square and Chapel Street, but the route has remained open to northbound traffic.

Diverted traffic has already caused chaos.

Now with more traffic expected to flood diversion routes, drivers say the roads will be unable to cope and crunch talks were held last night with highways chiefs.

Meanwhile, traders say the current diversions have caused chaos and driven away customers.

Cabbie David Palmer has had leaflets printed suggesting concerns are sent to council leader Peter Callow and deputy Ian Fowler.

The leaflets – entitled Please Don’t Blame Us – apologise for delays and call for Blackpool Council to open more routes while listing their contact details.

Mr Palmer said: “This is going to reduce the town to total gridlock.

“Dickson Road is a joke already, the roads are simply not coping.

“Our leaflets apologise and give Peter Callow’s phone number so they know who to contact.”

Drivers claim St John’s Square – closed to vehicles after recent improvements – should be reopened temporarily to help traffic flow.

Blackpool Council bosses say without the Promenade closure, vital regeneration work on the multi-million pound Tower Festival Headlands will not be completed in time for summer.

The closure is expected to last until June 17 – including over the busy Easter break.

When complete, the area will boast an outdoor arena as well as the Comedy Carpet, public art and a wedding chapel.

To help with congestion, the section from Gynn Square to Talbot Square will be opened to southbound traffic from Monday.

Diversion routes for visitors have been set up but highways chiefs say local residents look for their own way around the chaos.

Dee Grant, owner of C Cabs on Caunce Street, added: “It’s going to be pandemonium.

“I don’t know who is suggesting these routes but they can’t live around here.”

Bill Lewtas, secretary of Blackpool Licensed Taxi Operators Association, said they had a fruitful meeting with bosses which had seen a concession where they would be allowed to drive on the pedestrianised section of Bank Hey Street in the evening to get around town.

Helen France, executive director for places at Blackpool Council, said: “We’ve worked hard with hotels, businesses, taxi drivers and the emergency services to inform them about proposals and give them chance to make alternative arrangements.

“This is about Blackpool’s future in providing for the public and boosting the town’s economy.

“Work is taking place in a joined up manner so the road is reopened for summer season and lasts minimum time.