Preston’s £161m Western Distributor road moves forward

Lancashire’s Local Enterprise Partnership is to sign off the business case for the Preston Western Distributor road scheme, linking the A583 with the M55, at a meeting later this month, despite costs on the project increasing by nearly £60m.

Plans for the road, which runs between the A583 Preston to Blackpool road at Lea with the M55 at a new Junction 2 near Bartle, were granted by Preston’s planning committee in October, and the LEP is now expected to sign off the road’s business case at a meeting on 30 January.

The proposals will now be put forward to the Secretary of State for Transport for final sign-off, which will allow contractor Costain to start on site.

A business case prepared by consultant Atkins outlines the benefits of the scheme, including supporting the delivery of 5,000 homes in North West Preston, and improving access between the area’s Enterprise Zone at Warton and the wider roads network.

It will also help to deliver a new parkway station at Cottam on the Preston to Blackpool railway line, improving park-and-ride facilities between Preston, Liverpool, Manchester, and Blackpool.

Atkins’ assessment also said the project would generate an additional £144m of GVA for the local economy over a 60-year period.

Costs on the project have increased from the initial estimate of £105m, made when the scheme was first mooted in 2013. This estimate did not include any adjustment for inflation.

Costs have also risen due to the construction of two 250m-long viaducts, one of which has been found to be “particularly costly” due to “extremely poor ground conditions” which will require deep piling on site.

The council has undertaken a value engineering exercise to bring costs down and has utilised an early contractor involvement approach with Costain. Value engineering will continue through the detailed design phase of the project.

The scheme will be funded through £58m from the Local Growth Fund, and £25m from Highways England towards the junction at the M55. The remainder will be met by the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal.

Once the scheme is given approval by the Secretary of State, construction work will start on site following a series of compulsory purchase orders by Lancashire County Council.

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