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New Hall Lane bus lane is approved despite concerns over ‘narrow road’

Posted on - 14th May, 2024 - 8:00am | Author - | Posted in - Politics, Preston News, Roads, Transport
The new bus lane would run towards the city centre for a section of New Hall Lane Pic: Google

Proposals for a ‘temporary trial’ of a new bus lane in New Hall Lane have been dismissed.

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet approved pressing ahead with the stretch of bus-only road along one of the city’s busiest routes in Fishwick.

The new bus lane would operate for city-bound buses between the Fishwick Road and Witton Street stretch of New Hall Lane.

Read more: Corporation Street bus gate to start but motorists will receive ‘warning letter’

Cabinet member for highways and transport, county councillor Rupert Swarbrick, said: “As part of our initial allocation of £30.4m Bus Service Improvement Plan funding, the western end of New Hall Lane was identified as a location where the carriageway was wide enough so that a bus lane could be constructed, while maintaining a two-way carriageway for general vehicles.

“The aim of the scheme is to improve public transport journey times and timetable reliability by reallocating the carriageway width to create a lane dedicated for use by buses and cycles exclusively.

“This will allow public transport to move more seamlessly through the junction, allowing buses to bypass congestion and cut journey times, particularly during peak travel periods.

“We have listened to residents’ views during the public consultation and properly scrutinised all of the points made by those who objected.

“However, our assessment that the impact of this on other road users will be minimal as the width of New Hall Lane will allow for the creation of a bus lane alongside the existing traffic lanes.

“Taking everything into consideration, I am confident this scheme is viable and will prove to be a success once implemented.

“When viewed alongside the other schemes as part of the £41.9m Bus Service Improvement Plan funding from the UK Government, including the recently announced Phase 3 funding, residents can look forward to a better bus network across Lancashire.”

Read more: Single fares on buses to be capped at £1 on Sundays

Alternative options dismissed

Four objections to the New Hall Lane bus lane were dismissed by the county council – these included concerns around increased congestion and the road not being wide enough to incorporate the bus lane.

Deputy leader of Preston City Council and Fishwick & Frenchwood councillor Martyn Rawlinson expressed his disappointment at the decision by the county council.

He told Blog Preston: “I responded to the consultation suggesting that the bus lane would be better going the other way, from Acregate past Waverley Park as the traffic backs up there more often in my experience. The Highways Officer said this had been considered and may be included in a future scheme.

“The community group I am a member of, the Friends of Fishwick and St. Matthew’s (FoFs) suggested that the bus lane be implemented as a trial, using temporary/semi-temporary barriers to see if it worked. We have not been informed whether this was even considered. FoFs subsequently asked whether the scheme was evidence based, had there been traffic surveys etc? The Highways officer simply referred to the consultation exercise.

“So there is absolutely no evidence that the scheme will make a positive difference and not cause serious traffic issues for other commuters.

“It seems that LCC got some money and must spend it, and that’s it.

“I’m wholly in favour of improvements for public transport, cycling and walking but they need to be evidence based or tested. That’s not going to happen. We just have to hope they work – or get the Tories out of County Hall before they’re implemented.”

Work on the new bus lane is due to start this Autumn.

As well as the new bus lane, work will take place to widen the junction where New Hall Lane meets London Road and Stanley Street. This work is due to take place in Spring next year.

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