‘Our Promenade should go back to four lanes’

Motorists and businesses have their say on council options laid out to revamp town's Golden Mile.

Motorists and businesses have their say on council options laid out to revamp town's Golden Mile.

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Have your say

Blackpool Promenade should be returned to its original four lane layout, motorists and businesses said today.

As revealed in The Gazette yesterday, Blackpool Council has announced it is looking at five possible options for the future of the town’s Golden Mile – including a return to its previous four lane layout.

That option would cost up to £2.7m and take 35 weeks to complete, including several weeks of full closures.

Maintaining the present shared space layout is also being considered along with three other options.

Town Hall bosses revealed a full scale review yesterday after the current Prom was blamed for causing congestion.

And The Gazette took to the streets to speak to businesses, motorists and visitors about the plans.

The majority of Prom users we spoke to say they would favour a return to its previous four-lane format.

Taxi driver Allan Johnstone, 58, from Salmesbury Avenue, Bispham, said: “They just need to put it back to what it was, end of story, with no silly bus lanes.

“I can’t see bus lanes working because everyone’s going to use it unless the bus and taxi lanes are monitored by cameras.

“It just won’t work and that’s another expense.

“The Prom is the only main north to south route, you can’t circumvent it.”

Fellow cabbie Paul Bottle, 61, from Fulwood Avenue, Grange Park, said: “Trying to get round is a nightmare, the dual carriageway was originally the best idea.

“That’s what it needs to keep it flowing.

“When it was closed for the fun run it was chaos round here and we got customers complaining.”

Bus driver Vinny Markowicz, 50, from Cleveleys, said: “It was better before but having a bus lane put in would depend on whether people would ignore it or not.”

Many Promenade traders say they would also prefer a return to the old system.

Collette Campbell, 18, who works at Gifts Galore, on the Prom, said: “It’d be better if they changed it back because there’s too much traffic on the roads.

“If the work happens through the summer season it might affect business though.”

Gareth Ashton, 23, from Nelson Road, South Shore, added: “Four lanes would be better, but there’s always going to be road traffic in Blackpool so it’d probably not make much difference.”

Margaret and Robert Barker, from Longridge, near Preston, visit the town every week.

Mrs Barker said: “I would’ve though four lanes would be the best bet, whether they can afford it is another matter.

Mr Barker said: “I don’t think it’s easy at the moment, you don’t really know which bit is which and two really big vehicles can’t get by at the moment.”

Tim Clow, 60, from Little Eccleston, said: “It’s congested and there’s a popular conception that it’s dangerous so what we’ve got to look for is something that’s going to help alleviate that, which is crossings.

“The problem at the moment is the single lane each way. Four lanes is the most expensive but it’s worth paying for because if you leave it, traders might not get the same footfall during the Illuminations because bad news travels fast.”

However, not all were in favour of change. Marie Pinches, 76, from Preesall, said: “They should keep it the same, I think it’s alright.

“It all costs money to do these things, they keep changing things and it’s not always for the best.”

The current ‘shared space’ design between New Bonny Street and North Pier has been blamed for causing congestion along the stretch.

There has been widespread discontent following the opening of the shared space Prom in June 2011 as part of the £14m new Tower Festival Headland.

The cost of any work will be met from council funds – and no work would start until the end of the Illuminations at the earliest.

The council launched a full consultation yesterday before a decision is made in the summer.

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Pros and cons of the five options

All five options Blackpool Council is considering would necessitate different lengths of closure of the Promenade.

In The Gazette yesterday, we referred to the lengths of road closure each option would require.

The figures we reported were incorrect and, in all cases, referred to the length of time the works would take.

Blackpool Council has asked us to clarify the actual lengths of full road closures (all of which would take place at the end of the period of works) required for the various options.

While there would be disruption and partial closures as a result of the works taking place, there would be no full closures for the vast majority of the periods when the works are proposed.

We apologise for our error and are happy to clarify the details today.

The detailed information on the planned work required, cost and potential closure times for each option is detailed here.

OPTION 1 (Cost £0)

No changes. Repairs carried out as and when required to block work carriageway surface. The zebra crossing which was removed earlier this year would not be reinstalled.

• No Prom closures required.

Advantages
No additional cost. Minimal disruption and no further winter closures to do major works.
Easily accessible for pedestrians.
The scheme is safer than the old layout.
Strong visual link between the headland, the tramway and the Promenade.
Enables events to be staged on the headland.
Allows cafes to be retained.

Disadvantages
Potential risk of further material failure.

OPTION 2 (Cost £1m – £1.2m)

The block work carriageway and lay-bys would be replaced with asphalt. Three crossings would be required to allow people to cross safely. A raised kerbline would also be introduced at the edge of the footway.

• Length of closure – Four weeks.

• The work would start on November 11 for 15 weeks including a two week closure for Christmas.

• Two-way traffic flow would be maintained until the final four weeks from January 27 and February 21, 2014, when there would be full closure.

Advantages
Replacement of materials may prevent need for ongoing repairs.
More conventional road layout which drivers may feel more familiar with.

Disadvantages
Significant investment needed.
Disruption during work.
There may be excessive speeds at quieter times increasing the risk of accidents.
Poor accessibility for pedestrians unless combined with traffic lights at key locations.Visual break between the Headland, the tramway and the Promenade.
Would be unclear where vehicle should stop if pull ins and lay-bys in same material as carriageway resulting in some traffic queuing.
Raised kerb which will affect the area that can be used to stage events.
Higher traffic speeds expected.
Increase in road traffic collisions and danger to pedestrians.

OPTION 3a (Cost £800k to £900k)

The layout would remain a single lane in each direction with pedestrian refuges installed at up to six key points to help people cross the road. It also has right turn facilities and lay-bys. Asphalt would replace the current blockwork and a raised kerbline would be introduced at the edge of the footway.

• Length of closure – Four weeks.

• The work would start on November 11 for 15 weeks including a two week closure for Christmas.

• Two way traffic would be maintained until the final four weeks from January 27 and February 21, 2014, when there would be full closure.

Advantages
Replacement of materials may prevent need for ongoing repairs.More conventional road layout which drivers may be more familiar with.
Refuges will provide assistance to pedestrians crossing the road.Reduction in the number of points where traffic has to stop.

Disadvantages
Significant investment required for the scheme.

Disruption during works.
Refuges hold around 10 people at most. This could be a problem when large number of people are leaving trams and buses and looking to cross the road or in the peak season.
More vulnerable or less confident pedestrians may find it difficult to cross.
Raised kerb which will affect the area that can be used to stage events.

OPTION 3b (Cost between £900k and £1.05m)

As option 3a but with an extended central reservation rather than smaller pedestrian refuge.

• Length of closure – Four weeks.

• The work would start on November 11 for 15 weeks including a two week closure for Christmas.

• Two way traffic would be maintained until the final four weeks from January 27 and February 21 2014 when there would be full closure.

Advantages
More conventional road layout which drivers may find more familiar.
Greater assistance to pedestrians in crossing the road along the length of the central section.
Helps retain visual link between the headland and the Promenade.
Reduction in the number of places that traffic has to stop.

Disadvantages
Significant investment required.
Disruption during works.
More vulnerable or less confident pedestrians may find it difficult to cross the road.
Raised kerb which will affect the area that can be used to stage events.
Higher traffic speeds expected, coupled with likely increase in road traffic collisions and danger to pedestrians.

OPTION 4 (Cost between £2.3m and £2.7m)

Change layout to two lanes in each direction. Replace block work with asphalt. Install traffic lights for side road junctions and any pedestrian crossings. Guard rails reintroduced.

• Length of closure – Five weeks.

• The work would start on November 11 for 35 weeks, the work would include two week breaks for Christmas and Easter.

• The council says two-way traffic could be maintained until the final five week period between June 4 and July 8 when a full closure would be required.

Advantages
Replacement of materials may prevent need for ongoing repairs.
The layout would be a more familiar one for drivers.
Greater volume of vehicles able to use carriageway.

Disadvantages
Very high level of investment
Significant disruption into summer season with work running from November to July.
Higher traffic speeds expected, coupled with likely increase in road traffic collisions and danger to pedestrians.
Will disconnect the headland and tramway from the Promenade and town centre.
Pedestrian access to the seafront will be more difficult.
The area for events will be restricted.
There may be queuing as traffic merges into a single lane to the north and south of this area.
Significant decrease in width of pedestrian areas.
Road much closer to business frontages.


HAVE YOUR SAY... What option for the Prom’s future would you support? Please leave your preferred option at the start of your comment below.