The long-awaited Preston Western Distributor and new junction on the M55 is opening today.Advertisement
Known as Edith Rigby Way the new road links the A583 Blackpool Road and Riversway with the ‘missing’ junction 2 of the M55.
Two other link roads which will link North West Preston and Cottam and join the Preston Western Distributor are also opening.
Read more: Motorist reckons they’ve solved M55 and M6 congestion at Broughton junction
Costing £207m the new road has been in the works since 2013/14 when consultations and reports first began. Original proposals saw the road expected to cost around £109m – but the construction was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and rapidly escalating material costs.
Construction started in 2019 as part of the City Deal programme and as of 11am today the first cars will be able to drive on the new road.
The PWD has been given the name of Edith Rigby Way after Preston’s most famous suffragette who dedicated her life to fighting for women’s rights – especially for working class women.
Read more: Edith Rigby road name sparks debate in Preston
Two link roads – connecting the PWD to Fulwood and Cottam – have been named William Young Way and Avice Pimblett Way.
The names come from Victoria Cross recipient William Young and Avice Pimblett OBE who was the first female town councillor, woman alderman and woman mayor of Preston.
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Roads Minister Richard Holden, said: “Hundreds of thousands of Lancashire residents rely on our local road network to get around for work, education, hospital appointments and to see loved ones, whether that’s by car, bus, or cycling and walking.
“That’s why it’s fantastic to see the new Edith Rigby Way finally open thanks to this Government’s £31 million investment, which will help reduce congestion, cut journey times and create new local jobs, as we continue to improve transport connections to grow the economy.”
Read more: See drive-through video of the new Preston Western Distributor road
County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “This opening marks a significant achievement in our ongoing efforts to improve connectivity and access to public transport infrastructure in Lancashire.
“The new road will help to reduce congestion in certain parts of Preston, reduce travel times, open up access to sites for new homes, and unlock opportunities for economic growth and development.
“Thank you to everyone who has been involved in this project, especially during the pandemic. We look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on Preston and other parts of Lancashire.”
Read more: Watch route the Preston Western Distributor is due to take
Councillor David Borrow, Preston City Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Regulation, said: “The main new road is named after Edith Rigby in honour of Preston’s most famous suffragette, who dedicated most of her life to fighting for women’s rights, particularly those of working-class women. Improving the life of our residents remains at the heart of everything we do and this project has already benefited local businesses, provide local job opportunities and student placements, and bolstered the local economy.
“Providing better access to new and existing housing developments in North West Preston and Cottam, the new road will improve air quality and the traffic flow in the area for our residents.”
Mark Rawstron, Chair of the City Deal Executive, said: “The City Deal was a landmark agreement designed to transform Preston and South Ribble through the creation of new jobs and homes. The funding from City Deal has been instrumental in enabling growth through the expansion and improvement of transport infrastructure in the region, at scale.
“The Preston Western Distributor is a great example of this strategy in action. It also demonstrates how programmes like the City Deal can complement other funding streams, such as the LEP’s Growth Deal, to bring forward investments which generate significant benefits for the whole of the county.”
Read more: Watch M55 bridge demolished for Preston Western Distributor works
Debbie Francis OBE, Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “It’s fantastic that the Preston Western Distributor has been officially opened. The scheme has been designed to not only improve our access to the national motorway network, but also open up new housing sites, new industrial sites, and unlock other new commercial opportunities.
“The £58m of Growth Deal funding which helped ensure its completion is also a clear example of how LEP investment can be used strategically to support transformational projects which benefit the whole of the county.”
Bruce Parker, National Highways’ head of planning and development in the North West, said: “We’re delighted the opening of the road today includes a brand new junction for the M55. We’ve made a significant investment in this project from money we’ve specially allocated to support new jobs and homes through brilliant local partnerships like this one with the county council and others.
“As well as supporting the local economy, the new M55 junction two helps relieve congestion at other junctions along the motorway and help provide smoother and more reliable journeys for businesses, commuters and other motorway users.”
Read more: Land at Lea near Preston Western Distributor bought for hundreds of new homes
Jon Irvine, Development Director, Homes England: “It is fantastic to see the Preston Western Distributer opening today. This significant piece of infrastructure will allow better connections to be made across Lancashire and importantly for housing and economic growth to be stimulated across the sub-region.
“Homes England is proud to have supported delivery of such an important piece of infrastructure.”
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