Lancashire County Council has put forward a number of projects which could be delivered quickly as part of a new call from Transport for the North for the government to fund schemes which could help the economy following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The regional transport body has set out its initial plans for a Northern Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), a 30-year investment plan of infrastructure projects to underpin greener northern growth.
Its new Economic Recovery Plan highlights particular projects which could be started over the next 6-18 months to help create around 20,000 construction and design jobs across the north, and transform transport infrastructure.
Transport for the North has also highlighted further projects where work could start in 2 to 4 years if funding is made available to take them forward.
The projects in Lancashire which could be progressed quickly if further funding is made available include:
• Creating a dual carriageway along the full length of the A582 in Preston by upgrading the remaining single carriageway section between Penwortham and motorway junctions at Lostock Hall. As part of the same project, the B5253 stretch of Flensburg Way from the Farington recycling centre to Longmeanygate would also be turned into a dual carriageway using separate funding.
• Delivering improvements in central Preston to get more people cycling and walking by creating ‘active travel’ corridors along key routes.
• Progressing the business case for a new railway station at Midge Hall near Leyland to improve transport links and support the growth of new housing.
• Ensure funding is in place for detailed design work needed to progress proposals for a rail link to Skelmersdale and new town centre station beyond its current phase of development, and speed its delivery.
• Progress plans to improve frequency and reliability of rail journeys between Preston and Blackpool South by putting a ‘passing loop’ on the branch line.
• Develop proposals to improve frequency of rail journeys between Blackburn, Clitheroe and Hellifield by investing in track infrastructure to allow more trains to operate.
County Councillor Michael Green, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said: “We know the government is keen to invest in transport infrastructure, particularly where there is evidence that projects can be delivered quickly and that every pound spent will have a good return and give confidence to businesses.
“We’ve put forward a number of schemes as part of the Transport for the North Economic Recovery Plan which are at an advanced stage, and where an injection of cash now could lead to work on the ground being able to start quickly.
“These road, rail and sustainable transport improvements are needed to update our infrastructure and ensure Lancashire can meet the needs of residents and businesses as our economy recovers from the pandemic and grows over the coming years.
“Some proposals such as the improvements to support active travel in Preston, and full dualling of the A582, could be very quickly progressed to the point where work could start on the ground.
“There are also others, such as the development of a railway station for Midge Hall, which would directly support jobs in the construction of house building and could potentially be delivered in the near future with funding to develop them now.
“There are also a number of bigger schemes within Lancashire where we already have a business case in development to support them, but investment at this stage could really accelerate their delivery. These schemes, such as the Skelmersdale Rail Link, really do have the potential to transform opportunities for our communities and boost Lancashire’s contribution to the UK economy.”
You can find out more about the Transport for the North proposals at transportforthenorth.com/rebuild-and-transform.