A585 bypass: what effect will it have on surrounding roads?

The Skippool roundabout, the point at which the western end of the proposed bypass will meet the existing road network - the roundabout will be converted to a traffic light-controlled junction
The Skippool roundabout, the point at which the western end of the proposed bypass will meet the existing road network - the roundabout will be converted to a traffic light-controlled junction

More work needs to be done to assess the impact of the proposed A585 bypass between Windy Harbour and Skippool across the border between Fylde and Wyre.

That is the conclusion of Lancashire County Council highways officers who have submitted their own assessment of the scheme as part of the process to secure planning permission for the three-mile dual carriageway route.

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Highways England, which is responsible for the project to bypass Mains Lane, has applied for a development consent order directly from government which would give the new road the green light. But County Hall still gets to have its say via a local impact report.

That report, which has now been submitted after being approved by cabinet members, concludes that the suggested route maximises the transport and economic benefits of the scheme while minimising its environmental impact.

However, it also reveals concerns over potential traffic levels on other parts of the existing road network in the area if and when the bypass is built.

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Garstang Road East, to the west of its junction with the proposed scheme, is forecast to see its traffic flow increase by between 45 and 49 percent during the morning and evening rush hours.

Lancashire highways officers describe that increase as potentially having a “significant impact” on the local road network, but state that Highways England does not appear to have carried out an evaluation of how such an impact might be mitigated.

Other roads predicted to witness rush hour traffic flow increases include the A586 east of the Windy Harbour junction (10-15 percent) - the effects of which could be felt as far as the A6 - and the A585 south of Windy Harbour (12-13 percent), which could have an impact on the Thistleton Crossroads.

A predicted 11 percent increase in peak time traffic on Lodge Lane is described as “unexpected” and in need of further explanation.

Similarly, council officers question the lack of detail about a forecast flow reduction of 22 percent along the A588 Breck Road during the morning peak, which could reduce traffic in Poulton.

The report also highlighted as a “potential weakness” the fact that the traffic modelling data being used is between eight and ten years old - although it was “adjusted” in 2015. Additionally, it noted an absence of modelling to demonstrate how traffic light junctions will operate.

The conversion of the Skippool roundabout to a traffic light-controlled junction is highlighted over concerns that its proposed layout could cause "a safety issue" and be "confusing for cyclists". It is at this point that the bypass would meet the existing road network.

Cabinet member for economic development, Michael Green, said he believed the new route will “bring some improvements to the local area” - but warned that officers were drilling down into the details of the scheme.

“There are some concerns, particularly from the local [councillors], and those are being dealt with by our officers during negotiations with Highways England. [They] are prepared to go along [to a Planning Inspectorate hearing in July] and give further submissions if we don’t get the answers that we’ve requested,” County Cllr Green said.

Meanwhile, cabinet member for transport, Keith Iddon, said councillors in the area had pressed Highways England to mitigate the “disruption and diversions” which would be necessary to convert the existing Skippool roundabout to a traffic light controlled junction as part of the scheme.

The county's council's local impact report also assessed issues including air quality and noise in connection with the proposed £100m route, which would operate at 70mph for much of its length.

It is concluded that the bypass would not worsen air quality in the vicinity and that some areas along the existing A585 route would actually witness improvements.

Meanwhile, out of just over 900 properties which would detect varying increases in noise from the new road, 79 would experience "major adverse noise impacts" and 124 would be exposed to a "moderate increase", the report found.