The new £32m Broughton bypass will provide a massive boost to central Lancashire – lifting the economy and attracting developers.
READ MORE: The new Broughton Bypass - in numbers
That was the confident prediction from politicians and senior figures involved in the decades-long project to build a relief road around the congested village near Preston.
It is predicted to reduce the number of vehicles travelling through the centre of Broughton village by up to 90 per cent and improve journey times in and out of Preston.
This is the first major new road project completed as part of the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal.
Lancashire County Council leader Coun Geoff Driver said he was delighted the much-talked about bypass had come to fruition.
He said it would have a major impact not just on the Preston area but the whole central Lancashire economy.
He said: “It’s been a long time since a bypass was first talked about, and we’re pleased that we’ve finally been able to make it happen. The opening of this road will benefit the village but will also be a boost to the economy of the sub-region.”
Coun Driver said he felt confident that the bypass would have happened eventually, but City Deal had made it happen now.
It’s been a long time since a bypass was first talked about, and we’re pleased that we’ve finally been able to make it happen.
Jim Carter, chairman of the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, said it was a major step forward and many other plans had been put in place in anticipation of the bypass being built.
He said: “This is the first major new road scheme delivered by our City Deal, which aims to transform the area by reducing congestion, helping people to get around and opening up new commercial opportunities.”
Mr Carter added: “I want City Deal repeated across the whole of Lancashire and beyond. “Central Lancashire has become a real driver of the economy and I’m very positive about the future.”
Preston Council leader Coun Peter Rankin said it was a “momentous occasion” for Preston.
He felt the bypass opening would bring in more plans and more investment to the area, particularly in and around Whttingham, which had previously been difficult to access.
He added: “This road has been a long time coming, and I believe it will have been worth the wait. This is just one of the significant improvements City Deal is able to bring to the city and I am very pleased to be a part of the process.”
Major new schemes to come include the Preston Western Distributor route and the Cottam Link and East West link roads, which will also ease traffic congestion in the area by taking traffic to a new M55 junction.
Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen, said the bypass was an example of how the Powerhouse concept was changing lives in Lancashire.
He said: “We’ve waited a very long time for this. The Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal is a great example of local partners, including government, collaborating together to make long awaited schemes like this a reality.”
What’s it like to drive on?
Just driving to the new Broughton bypass was a perfect illustration of the congested roads in and around Preston, writes David Nowell.
Travelling north from Chorley, the M61 and M6 was crawling. Junction 31a towards Longridge and Fulwood was at a standstill, with tailbacks stretching way back towards the Tickled Trout.
Staying on the M6, the inside two lanes going towards the M55/Preston were stopped. Finally arriving at the Broughton roundabout, traffic on Garstang Road was barely moving.
And suddenly there it is - the Broughton bypass. Shooting off right and taking you right around the Broughton crossroads and onto the A6 further north. No more queuing endlessly for the lights to change and another few cars to be allowed forward.
This must be heaven.
We were given a preview of the new 2km-long road minutes before it was officially opened.
We barely got out of second gear following the lead highways vehicle, but at least we were moving!
The smooth, pristine road starts off as a dual carriageway (limit 40mph) and sweeps around the corner. Then it climbs slightly and you realise just how much open land and countryside there is either side of you.
It’s a very pleasant journey up to the roundabout at Whittingham Lane.
Long-suffering motorists used to sitting in massive queues will be delighted at the sense of movement. After crossing Whittingham Lane it becomes a single carriageway and snakes around to meet the A6, saving vital minutes.
It may have taken decades, but the wait will definitely be worth it for many motorists.
Now, can we do something about the M6?
Bypass name tribute
Victoria Cross recipient James Towers’ family were honoured to have the new bypass named after him.
The Broughton soldier was serving in the First World War in 1918 when he volunteered to relay a message as a runner after five others had already lost their lives attempting it.
He made it – and brought vital support for his comrades, saving many lives.
James’ granddaughter Glynis Castle, of Fulwood, said the family was contacted a couple of weeks ago and told of the plans to name the bypass after her grandfather. They readily agreed.
Glynis said: “I think it’s a wonderful idea. He lived and worked in this area so it’s very appropriate.”
She said her grandfather never liked to talk about the war.