VIDEO: Builders move onto Skippool junction roundabout as construction of £150m bypass begins

The first builders moved onto the Windy Harbour to Skippool bypass today as a major two-year building project to improve traffic on the Fylde coast finally gets underway.

Monday, 1st February 2021, 7:00 pm

Builders arrived at the Skippool junction roundabout where the A585 meets the A588 local road yesterday as they prepare to remove the large structure and replace it with a £150m dual carriageway south of Little Singleton.

Lanes have been narrowed, and traffic signals and a 30mph speed limit have been put in place while roadworks, which are expected to last until 2023, are carried out.

John Stokes, senior project manager for Highways England, said: “The aim of this bypass is to cut congestion on a really busy road, so it’s going to be a major improvement to a key route in and out of the Fylde coast. It’s going to benefit thousands of drivers by shaving time off their journeys.

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The Skippool junction roundabout and islands which are going to be removed

“It’s also going to improve road safety. The road is of a very modern standard and was designed with safety in mind to reduce the likelihood of accidents, and we are also separating wherever possible the areas for pedestrians, cyclists and cars.

“It will support the local economy because it will improve the reliability of people’s journey times. Businesses will be more able to plan their deliveries and people will be able to get to businesses in Poulton, Fleetwood and Blackpool much more easily and quickly.”

The roundabout at Skippool will be replaced by a fully-signalised crossroads. Construction of the new bypass will also start, with construction work on a new junction with the A586 to Poulton.

A short section of the existing single carriageway between the roundabout and Skippool Bridge will be turned into into a dual carriageway linked with the new bypass.

Artist's impression of part of the new bypass

John said: “People travelling over Wyre shouldn’t be affected. People travelling from Fleetwood and Poulton who normally use the Skippool roundabout might find delays at times.

“A 30mph speed limit has been put in place for safety.

“We have been talking to th local Council, bus companies and large local businesses and we’re going to try to minimise disruption wherever possible.

“The lockdown has reduced traffic numbers and the number of people on the roads, so hopefully that is likely to minimise the impact of the work. But these are busy roads which do take a lot of traffic, so we do have plans in place to reduce the chance of delays.

“We will be planning any disruptive works outside of peak hours to keep traffic moving. If delays do occur, we will look at what we can do to alleviate that.

“The main aim is to significantly reduce congestion of this part of the Fylde coast and so the end result will be much better. I live in St Annes and I see the effect that the road has on people every day. This scheme will make it much better for people in the future.

“We’re delighted to get underway with it. We have been doing some works since last year, but mainly in the fields around the existing roads. We have been making good progress despite the pandemic and this work is really the biggest work that people will see since we began.”

Not all responses to the bypass were positive, however.

Coun Kenneth Minto, who represents Stanah ward where some of the work will take place, said the bypass will be welcomed in the long-term - but until then, drivers were likely to be bothered by delays similar to those caused during the development of Norcross roundabout last year.

He said: “When it’s all finished it will be great. Once this phase is finished in 2023, the next phase from there is linking the Wyre roundabout to Norcross roundabut and we will feel the benefit. But until it’s all linked up, while they are closing the roads to do all these improvements, it will be frustrating.”

Breck ward councillor Peter Le Marinel, who lives close to the Skippool junction roundabout, opposed the £150m bypass plans from the start. He said: “It’s no secret that I was totally against the project, so I’m no fan. I would be very, very happy to be proved wrong, but I don’t think that will happen.

“I have not spoken to a single resident around here who was for it. For people who live around the roundabout it’s going to be two years of upheaval, and I’ve got to side with them.

“It’s like building a three mile car park. At both ends you’ve still got a dual carriageway going onto a smaller road. The traffic is still there, it’s just being moved elsewhere.

“I’m hoping it will take some of the traffic heading to the industrial estate off Breck Road. The traffic on Breck Road in the morning, from 7am until 9am, is bumper to bumper, and it’s the same in the evening, so if it can alleviate some congestion there then that’s got to be a good thing.”

Overnight closures should be expected in the future while building work is carried out on Skippool Bridge and on Lodge Lane in Singleton, where a new bridge is being built and a temporary road will be created. Residents will be informed of any planned closures by Highways England by post.