Road link boost - but this time it must happen

It could be a highway to success for Fleetwood.

Wednesday, 7th September 2016, 10:22 am
Updated Wednesday, 7th September 2016, 2:20 pm
Traffic chaos on the A585, approaching the Kirkham junction of the M55. The road is a key link between Fleetwood and the motorway.

Hopes have been lifted that the town can be given a vital road link boost which can help businesses in the future.

And the news has been welcomed in the town.

Traders have long complained that the badly congested A585 has harmed business and discouraged businesses from coming to Fleetwood. Coupled with the lack of a rail link and even the end of freight services, this has been seen as a major drawback for the town.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But now a consultation has been launched over proposals to build a new road linking Fleetwood to the M55.

Highways England is hoping to have the new link open by 2020.

The Government Agency wants to reconstruct or completely bypass two miles of road notorious for jams.

And it has launched a news consultation over plans to tackle congestion along a section of the A585 between Fleetwood and the M55 in Lancashire.

Now that plans to restore Fleetwood’s rail link are also making progress, it adds up to encouraging news on the transport links front.

Derek Eaton, a former Fleetwood Chamber of Trade chairman who runs the Lighthouse stationers, said: “This is absolutely brilliant news. The A585 is ah absolute nightmare and I am convinced it has put off businesses - and people generally, from coming to Fleetwood. This new road will really open up the Fylde coast and it can’t come soon enough.”

The two options being put to the public are improvements to the existing route, and a brand new bypass avoiding the Shard and Little Singleton junctions which are particular congestion bottlenecks.

Problems on the A585 have been blamed for the loss of ferry services to Fleetwood and are a constant thorn in the side of businesses along the delay-plagued route.

But having been promised a new link road in the past some people remain sceptical the scheme will go ahead, although many would welcome the benefit of faster links to the motorway network.

Steve Lynton owns Fleetwood’s Granada Fish Bar and is a prominent businessman in the port.

He said: “I think a lot of people will be suspicious until the actually see work happening.

“We need a solution which stops the delays all the way to Fleetwood.

“People in Fleetwood want a link which will benefit them, not just Poulton, Blackpool and Cleveleys.”

Darren Abey is currently leading the fight to bring ferry services back to Fleetwood.

He said: “We went through this a few years ago.

“Is anything going to come from it this time?

“We’ve got the barrage scheme, we’ve got the ferry talks and Fleetwood needs something like this.

“At the moment the town is a dead end. It needs investment, we need investment.

“If we want to attract businesses back to Fleetwood we have to have that link.

“I know how bad it can be, I used to drive lorries from the port and sometimes it could take 50 minutes to get to the motorway.

“I’d favour the new dual carriageway, maybe then we could be on the motorway in 15 or 20 minutes.”

Fylde coast residents could be forgiven for thinking they’ve been here before.

Nearly a decade ago Lancashire County Council held extensive consultations over potential routes for a link road between the M55 and Fleetwood.

Seven possible routes, colour coded Red, Yellow, Pink, Purple, Green, Brown and Blue, were put to the public.

After extensive consultations, costing more than £50,000, the people of Lancashire opted for the blue route, cutting from Norcross across farmland to a new junction on the M55 near Weeton.

Those plans were sunk in 2008 when the Department for Transport made clear no new junctions would be built.