Key schemes in Blackpool including the replacement of railway bridges and the extension of the tramway are part of the latest transport blueprint for Lancashire.
The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has published its latest Strategic Transport Prospectus which sets out the opportunities for Lancashire with regards to unlocking substantial economic potential via better transport connectivity.
The prospectus highlights how through better transport links Lancashire can build on aspirations for a Northern Powerhouse, and maximise the benefits offered by the county’s proximity to the North’s key city-regions.
The 48-page report, entitled ‘Lancashire – as part of interconnected and productive northern powerhouse’, outlines the LEP’s national, regional and local transport priorities in the short, medium and long term.
It is estimated the transport plan could create 15,000 jobs across the region, and contribute an additional £685m worth of goods and services to the UK economy each year.
Work began at the end of last year to replace the first of 10 bridges in Blackpool which are being upgraded at a total cost of £11.4m.
The funding includes £5.5m from the Department for Transport Challenge Fund, £3.8m from the Lancashire Enterprise Growth Deal and £2m from Blackpool Council’s own transport budget.
The other bridges in Blackpool due for repair are at Plymouth Road, Squires Gate Lane, Devonshire Road, Chapel Street, Seasiders Way, Rigby Road, Waterloo Road, Watson Road and Harrowside.
Transport chiefs in the town had warned without investment the bridges could eventually be forced to close permanently which would have had a catastrophic effect on the resort’s road network.
Work is being carried out over the next five years and extending Blackpool’s tramway from the Promenade up Talbot Road to North Station has been set down as one of the town’s transport priorities.
The Department for Transport, through Transport for Lancashire, has already pledged £16m for the work, but the council will have to contribute up to £4.7m towards the capital and preparation costs, which would come from savings and the transport budget.
Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “The quality of our transport network drives our local economy.
“From bringing visitors in to helping businesses grow, it is all underpinned by a working transport system.
“This is a prime example where all councils need to work beyond borough boundaries to make sure that transport between Blackpool and places like Preston, Manchester and London is as good as it can possibly be.
“By bringing in money from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, we’re able to press on with that work to make travelling and commuting easier for everybody.
“Replacing old bridges makes sure that Seasiders Way can stay open, along with helping electrification of the train lines, while joining the tram line up with Blackpool North will have huge benefits for both tourists and commuters.
“Other projects will help to direct traffic around town better and improve the appearance of key routes in to the town.
“On top of the improvements to our transport network, this is also more than £30m being invested in Blackpool.
“That ultimately creates and secures more jobs, as well as benefitting local businesses near the construction works.”
Lancashire’s Current Transport Investment Programme includes:
Blackpool Integrated Traffic Management
Funding approval October 2015
Blackpool Bridges Maintenance
M55 to St Annes Link Road
To be advised
Preston Western Distributor
Funding approval December 2017
Funding approval October 2015
Blackpool Town Centre Green Corridors
Funding approval April 2016
Blackpool Tramway Extension
Funding approval April 2017