Transport for Greater Manchester has begun the last package of works needed to turn Manchester’s Oxford Road into a bus and cyclist priority route by 2017.
Highways work in the area will start at the end of January, with off-road preparatory activity taking place now around Denmark Road, Whitworth Park and the hospital campus.
Traffic restrictions will be implemented along Oxford Road in order to create a new boulevard environment which prioritises buses, cyclists and pedestrians. General traffic will be removed from the road.
TfGM said that Dutch-style cycle lanes will make it easier and safer for cyclists to travel along the road, separating them from buses, and bus services along one of Europe’s busiest bus corridors will have shorter journey times and become more punctual and reliable.
The start of the final phase of the Oxford Road package is a major landmark in the transformational Grow project. Grow is seeing more than £1bn invested in city centre infrastructure improvements by 2017, including the Metrolink Second City Crossing, bus priority measures, six new and better cycle routes into the city centre and major rail improvements.
As part of the scheme, which will see a bus and cycle-only section created between Hathersage Road and Grosvenor Street, more than 140 semi-mature trees grown in specialist nurseries will be planted. This is around three times as many as those which have to be removed in preparatory works to make way for the transformation.
A wider variety of trees, including exotic species not usually found on British streets such as Japanese cherries, sweet gum trees and gingko will be planted to contribute to a more attractive boulevard-style streetscape. Hundreds of shrubs, ornamental grasses and flowers will also be planted along the route.
Works are being phased to avoid revision time for students.
Drivers will already be used to driving in the city along the widened Upper Brook Street and the newly-created two-way working on Princess Street, introduced in preparation for the permanent changes to Oxford Road.
Cllr Andrew Fender, chairman of the Transport for Greater Manchester committee, said: “We are delighted to see the bus priority works gearing up along Oxford Road which will see a transformation of the route into a world-class environment.
“The scheme will ultimately result in increased travel choice and access to Oxford Road for existing staff, the future workforce, and visitors.”
A 3D video fly-through is available online and takes people on a virtual journey through the transformed city, showing improvements for bus users, cyclists, pedestrians and other road users.