Fylde’s MP has pledged that all parties involved in building a much-needed link road are focused on starting work as soon as possible after the latest bout of rush-hour gridlock left drivers fuming.
An accident earlier this week caused Queensway, St Annes to be closed, causing extensive tailbacks along Clifton Drive North and Ballam Road, the only other available direct routes from Blackpool to St Annes and Lytham.
The incident again highlighted the urgent need for the link road from the M55 to Ansdell, which in July 2014, the Government pledged to put forward £2m Growth Deal funding towards its construction.
At the time, it was claimed that work on the road, linking Lytham St Annes Way at Whitehills with Cypress Point, would ‘start in 18 months’ but still the wait goes on – to the frustration of residents, traders and visitors.
Mr Menzies has been involved in talks with officials of the Lancashire County Council highways authority and other interested parties over the issue - and he is hopeful that work will begin soon.
He said: “I was delighted when I was able to help secure £2m Growth Deal funding to kick-start the new M55 Lytham St Annes link road, which is something that the area has desperately needed for many years.
“All the parties involved in building the road are now getting to a stage where complicated negotiations over funding and construction timetables are being finalised and hopefully we will see work begin soon.
“I am keenly aware of traffic problems in the area following the closure of the existing road.
“The negotiations which are ongoing are focused on ensuring that the route is reopened in the quickest time possible.”
John Moxham, chairman of St Annes Chamber of Trade, said the earliest possible start on the new road would be welcome – as the ongoing traffic chaos is a major frustration to everyone.
“Whenever there is an accident on either road, it is gridlock and even when the roads are clear on busy weekends, there are traffic jams because of the sheer weight of traffic,” he said.
“It is vital there is an extra option, as the traffic problems are beginning to undermine all the hard work that has gone into bringing extra visitors into the area.
“The housing developments around the area will mean extra vehicles on our road so it is vital we have the roads to cope.”
Traffic on the two roads between St Annes and Blackpool, particularly Queensway, has increased notably since the single-track moss road running closing to the intended Whitehills-Ansdell link and which many Fylde drivers used to reach the M55 was closed for ‘safety reasons’ in October 2014.
St Annes mayor Coun Cheryl Little, who is also chairman of Fylde Council’s tourism and leisure committee, said: “Transport has been highlighted as a crucial part of the recently-prepared St Annes Neighbourhood Plan. Our town and the number of visitors to it continues to grow and it is vital we have a right infrastructure in place.