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Some of Lancashire’s oldest traffic lights set to be replaced

Posted on - 20th June, 2024 - 8:00am | Author - | Posted in - Chorley News, Fylde News, Preston News, Ribble Valley News, Roads, South Ribble News, Transport, Wyre News
County Hall in Preston. Pic: Blog Preston
County Hall in Preston. Pic: Blog Preston

Some of Lancashire’s oldest traffic lights could be prevented from sudden failure after a successful bid for government cash.

Lancashire County Council has been handed a £234,000 grant from the Traffic Signal Obsolescence Fund, which is intended to enable out-of-date equipment to be replaced – and ensure ageing lights are not left beyond repair in the event of a breakdown.  Signals that are more than 20 years old are still in operation at some junctions in the county.

However, the authority missed out on cash from a related scheme to make its traffic signals ‘smarter’ by better responding to current traffic conditions and improving the flow of vehicles.

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But that benefit is on its way to Blackpool after the council there scooped £500,000 from the Green Light Fund, which will be used to make the town’s traffic lights operate as efficiently as possible.   The authority also received £66,000 from the obsolescence fund, while Blackburn with Darwen Council was allocated £555,000 from that pot, but, like the county council, nothing from the Green Light Fund.

County Hall’s Labour opposition group leader Matthew Tomlinson queried whether the money being sent Lancashire’s way was ringfenced for the purposes intended or was at risk of “disappear[ing] into the big fund [so that] you never know whether you’ve spent it or not”.

Rupert Swarbrick, the county council’s portfolio holder for highways and transport, told a cabinet meeting the funding would be reserved solely for traffic light upgrades.

In spite of being responsible for traffic light maintenance in every corner of Lancashire except Blackpool and Blackburn, the county council’s allocation from the twin Department for Transport schemes is less than half the amount the two smaller standalone authorities have been awarded.

However, the total nevertheless far outstrips the £150,000 that County Hall had already earmarked for traffic signal improvements out of its £32.4m highways capital maintenance programme for 2024.25 – just over half of which goes on road resurfacing.

Of the other infrastructure work covered by that budget, traffic lights get the lowest share of cash – with streetlights swallowing up £2.3m and bridge maintenance £5.6m.

A report presented to cabinet members stated that the additional improvements funded by the obsolescence grant may be delivered in the 2025/26 financial year if all the work cannot be completed in the next nine months.

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