The opening of the £17.5m Penwortham Bypass in Lancashire this month paves the way for proposed improvements to the town centre, including a public realm and pedestrian-friendly high street, according to the council.
Construction began in January 2018 to build a dual carriageway linking the A59 Liverpool Road to the A582, bypassing Penwortham to the south west of the town and connecting to the existing Broad Oak roundabout.
The road has a 50mph speed limit along its whole length.
The project, funded by the £434m Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, has been named John Horrocks Way after the 1700s Lancashire textile mill owner John Horrocks, who lived in Penwortham. It has been delivered by the City Deal’s in-house highways team and was originally due to complete in 2020.
The road opened on 2 December, and its completion now sets the scene for work to begin on improving the public realm beyond the bypass and into Penwortham town centre.
Documents from Lancashire County Council show proposals for three options for town centre improvements to reflect the reduced volume of traffic expected to pass through Penwortham.
These are, transforming the high street into a central boulevard with more room for pedestrians and space for unspecified alternative uses, a tree-lined avenue to serve as the main high street, or a “narrow meandering high street” with trees in the centre of the carriageway and more space for road users.
Options for a bus priority route on the A59 will also be considered now the bypass is complete, the council said.
Plans for the bypass were granted permission in September 2017. As part of the works, school playing fields at All Hallows Catholic High School were relocated and improved, providing them with better drainage and improved access from the school.
The council aims to reduce congestion in Penwortham, encourage more walking and cycling and prioritise buses along the A59.