The newest road in Preston is now open to drive along.
Broughton Bypass – now known as James Towers Way after a city war hero – has seen its first cars make the trip along the one-mile stretch.
Aimed at reducing congestion at the Broughton crossroads the road goes from the M55 junction to the north of the village.
First mooted 40 years ago the road has been plagued by construction delays and has ended up costing millions of pounds more than initially budgeted for.
Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth Jake Berry cut the ribbon on the road.
He said: The Northern Powerhouse is about creating jobs and economic growth so I am delighted to be here today to open the James Tower Way which, with £15.5m of government funding, will not only make a transformative difference to those who live in Broughton village but will also act as a gateway for greater local growth opportunities and prosperity in the surrounding areas.
“The Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal is a great example of local partners, including government, collaborating together to make long-awaited schemes like this a reality.”
Costing £32million the road had been delayed until January 2018 but Lancashire County Council brought forward the opening date – saying it would open the road and then do finishing touches around the traffic using it.
Leader of the county council councillor Geoff Driver CBE said: “This is a big day in the history of the village of Broughton, as well as for the city of Preston. We’re well aware of the delays that people have experienced over the years and the vital need for this new road.
“The bypass will bring much-needed congestion relief to the village itself and the wider area. Broughton crossroads have been a longstanding congestion hotspot for commuters and local users, adding to journey times and air quality problems due to standing traffic.
“It’s been a long time since a bypass was first talked about, and we’re pleased that we’ve finally been able to make it happen. The opening of this road will benefit the village but will also be a boost to the economy of the sub-region.”
Work on the Broughton crossroads is due to start in the coming months, with the traffic lights due to be removed and money spent on ‘improving the street scene’.
Broughton Parish Council chairperson Pat Hastings said: “We have waited many years for this bypass, and now it is finally here we can celebrate the positive effect it will have on the quality of life for the people of Broughton.
“The bypass will also help motorists who have suffered long delays trying to travel through the village.”
Funding for the road comes from the City Deal – a £434million investment in roads and housing across Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire.
Chairman of the City Deal Jim Carter said: “This is the first major new road scheme delivered by our City Deal, which aims to transform the area by reducing congestion, helping people to get around and opening up new commercial opportunities.
“We have already achieved a great deal, and this bypass is the latest in a long list of our successes to date.
“Good connectivity is vital for businesses to grow and prosper. We’re working hard to unlock the potential of this area, helping people to get around, creating new jobs and bringing economic growth.”
Joining the crowds at the opening of the bypass on Thursday (5 October) lunchtime was the leader of Preston City Council councillor Peter Rankin.
He said: “This is a momentous occasion for Preston. This road has been a long time coming, and I believe it will have been worth the wait. This is just one of the significant improvements City Deal is able to bring to the city and I am very pleased to be a part of the process.”
Drivers are warned the opening of the bypass means D’urton Lane is closed at its eastern end to remove any rat running and make the road safer for Guild Wheel walkers and cyclists.
The subway under the west side of the M55 roundabout at Broughton is going to be restored in the coming weeks. It’s been shut throughout the bypass works.