Temporary traffic lights that caused chaos under Devonshire Road railway bridge axed as council claims they were there without permission

Temporary traffic lights were removed on Wednesday
Temporary traffic lights were removed on Wednesday

Temporary traffic lights under the railway bridge in Devonshire Road, North Shore, were removed on the orders of the council, which yesterday claimed they were put up without permission.

The main route, which links Blackpool to Bispham, Cleveleys, and Fleetwood, went down to one lane on Sunday, sparking severe traffic jams during rush hour.

But despite Network Rail’s plans to have them there until Saturday, April 28, they were taken down on Wednesday and will not be returning, the authority said.

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Traffic officers were aware of the work, linked to the electrification work on the railway line between the resort and Preston, but ‘no supplementary information or details were received’ about the lights, a spokeswoman said.

She added: “We liaised with Network Rail to address the situation and improve the traffic flow, which included using manually controlled signals.

“However, after a review, we were not satisfied it was alleviating traffic flow adequately and some of the advice about using manually controlled signals had not been actioned.

“We carefully considered the needs of road users and believe that traffic management on the highway was not required for the work Network Rail needed to undertake.

“We therefore instructed Network Rail to remove the traffic management system, which was achieved before rush hour on Wednesday to aid motorists.”

A project manager at Network Rail said the row could lead to further delays in the future, but town hall chiefs are understood to be reluctant to rubber stamp any more work in the road itself, and are instead only likely to agree to a footpath closure.

The worker said the lights were being manually controlled during rush hour and later between 7am and 7pm before talks with traffic officers ‘came to a head’ on Wednesday, when the lights were gone by 4.30pm.

“We are working with the council to manage the disruption being caused,” he said.

Coun Ivan Taylor, who lives on Devonshire Road and could see the queuing traffic from his window, said he was not told about the roadworks, and criticised rail bosses.

He said: “I think Network Rail has tried in the past to communicate with people, but in my opinion they have failed in this instance because I’m not the only one who was not aware of it closing this week.

“When I spoke to council officers, neither were they.

“The motorist has been long suffering over the last few months, and when you are trying to get home or to an appointment, it’s not funny.

“It’s causing traffic chaos because of the queues, and it’s unfortunate for the drivers and we are all part of that.

“But there are some inconveniences we have to put up with to make Blackpool a better place.”

Coun Tony Williams, opposition leader at Blackpool Council, added: “Too often these nationalised companies seem to be working on their own behest or agenda. Not enough information was given to the council about the work which caused terrible disruption.

“This whole exercise has been a shambles from beginning to end.”

In a statement, Network Rail said: “Temporary traffic lights were put in place to allow engineers to work safely. This work is part of the Great North Rail Project, which will enable greener, quieter, and more reliable trains to run from May 20.

“We are working with Blackpool Council to minimise disruption to motorists in the future.”

The firm’s press office did not answer questions about the timing of the work, or what specifically was being done.