More than £1m is set to be spent tackling traffic congestion in Blackpool over the next three years.
Town hall transport chiefs are proposing to invest £465,000 on improving traffic controls and £703,000 on enhancing the road network.
The proposals are laid out in the council’s Local Transport Plan which sets out a vision for 2018 to 2021.
Measures being considered to cut the queues include widening some roads and making some streets two-way, a potential park-and-ride scheme based at Starr Gate and using more ‘intelligent’ traffic lights for the better management of traffic flow.
The blueprint, which has been approved by the council’s executive, also includes £3m for highway maintenance, £200,000 to be spent on road safety, and £600,000 towards creating a second bus hub on Corporation Street similar to the one already created on Market Street.
A council spokesperson said: “The Local Transport Plan outlines our priorities and how we might deliver improvements to how the road network operates.
“It brings together areas for consideration to make our transportation network better and fit for purpose as Blackpool develops and continues to regenerate.”
The schemes will be funded by the council’s allocation of cash from the Department for Transport.
The spokesperson added that while specific details are not yet available, the strategy would take into account issues including congestion hotspots and developments such as the new conference centre at the Winter Gardens.
Stephen Buckley, from the Blackpool Licensed Taxi Operators Association, said the town centre was frequently jammed with cars.
He said: “Something needs to be done because it’s certainly not working at the moment.
“One thing we’d like to see is controlled Pelican crossings on Central Promenade, because on a Friday and Saturday when the town is busy it is horrendous.
“People are crossing in dribs and drabs at the zebras and it holds the traffic up sometimes all the way back to Yates’s in South Shore.
“Other pinch points are Cookson Street and Topping Street.
“We also think it will get worse when the tramway extension up Talbot Road is in operation because the tram is bound to get priority at the junctions with the Promenade, Dickson Road and Abingdon Street.
“I have heard there are plans to try and ease things, and that perhaps Cookson Street might become two-way.”
Conservative group leader Coun Tony Williams said current roadworks had worsened town centre congestion.
His party wants a new bus station to be built as part of its transport proposals for the resort. Coun Williams said;
“Before the works commenced the worst congested black spot was Talbot Square and this will still be an issue in the future.
“I was never in favour of single lanes at this junction which would be easy to reinstate, however adding an additional tram turn here up Talbot Road will create real problems. Spending £1m on fixing road issues that the council has created seems to suggest no forward planning.
“We don’t need another bus hub on Corporation Street, this will just cause more congestion.
“What we do need is a new bus station and we have committed to build this in our 2019 manifesto, together with a promise to develop Central Drive both as an improved area and to reinstate it as a main arterial route to alleviate traffic issues on the Promenade.”
What has been done previously about the traffic?
Recent town centre changes include:-
In 2013 the council considered returning the Promenade back to its original four lane layout in a bid to solve chronic congestion problems.
But the move would have cost £2.7m and was rejected after a review which considered five options.
The current ‘shared space’ layout was built in 2011 as part of the £14m Tower Headland project when the Conservatives were in office at the Town Hall.
St John’s Square was reinvented as a traffic free space for street art, events and concerts in 2010 as part of a £4.7m project funded by the North West Regional Development Agency.
Bickerstaffe Square opened in 2013 as the focus for new developement including the Sainsbury’s supermarket and Bickerstaffe House council offices.
In 2014 a new bus lane was created on Central Drive between Reads Avenue and Albert Road.
Transport schemes to come
Other schemes in the Local Transport Plan 2018 to 2021 include:
l Highway maintenance: £3m over three years on maintenance for roads and bridges.
l Road safety: £200,000 on measures to reduce casualties on Blackpool’s roads.
l Economy: Match funding towards the town centre quality corridors scheme (£537,000); A £200,000 contribution towards the tramway extension; A bus hub on Corporation Street, to increase the number of bus stops, similar to the improvements recently carried out on Market Street (estimated to cost £600,000)
l A contribution of £525,000 to help address the poor condition of the borough’s classified roads.
l Parking: £66,000 to assist with renewing facilities at the coach station and for signage within parking zones so they can be effectively enforced.
l Accessibility: £450,000 on the Bispham Village district centre improvement scheme; £145,000 on new bus shelters and on refurbishing existing ones where possible; £30,000 on small-scale measures to assist cyclists and pedestrians.
l Monitoring: for automatic and manual traffic counts (£49,000).
l Match funding for the Yeadon Way scheme (£335,000).
l Provision for developing sc l hemes and a contribution towards the South Fylde Line Community Rail Partnership (£30,000).
l Electric vehicle charging points in town centre car parks (£52,000).
l A further Project 30 contribution (£75,000).
l Staff costs for monitoring and managing the capital programme (£53,000).