Transport bosses say they’re doing all they can to cut congestion and minimise disruption in the east of Wigan Borough caused by construction work on the Leigh guided busway.
It follows a meeting called by myself and local councillors to address concerns raised by the public about traffic problems in Leigh, Astley and Tyldesley.
My constituents are fair-minded and often prepared to put up with a lot. But in recent weeks they have been saying “enough is enough”. Traffic congestion has gone way beyond acceptable levels and, together with local councillors, I called this meeting to give voice to the frustration that our constituents are feeling.
It was a positive meeting and I can assure people that those in charge of the busway construction are fully aware of how strongly people feel. It is clear mistakes have been made and we received assurances they will not be repeated. We also asked for a number of steps to be taken to improve the current situation as it clearly cannot continue. I have to say drivers are unlikely to see an improvement overnight but I am confident that we will get to a point where the level of disruption is more acceptable to the public. We have called a follow-up meeting next week and we will give people a further update after that.
Representatives from Wigan Council, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and busway contractor Balfour Beatty met with Mr Burnham and local ward councillors on Monday (October 13). A series of steps were agreed to combat congestion. They include:
• No other non-busway road works to take place in the area except for emergency utility works needed to keep on gas, water and power supplies to homes.
• A review of the plans to construct the busway and park and ride junctions on Astley Street in Tyldesley.
• A review of temporary traffic management on the A580 to see if disruption can be reduced, including investigating whether some works can be rescheduled and carried out at weekends to minimise the impact on commuters.
• Develop a single point of information for busway-related road works including improved coordination with the works in Salford.
It’s hoped these measures will relieve some of the difficulties drivers have been experiencing in the area in recent weeks.
Transport bosses insisted everything was being done to keep disruption to a minimum and lessen the impact on residents. But they agreed to look again at some of the plans for works being carried out in the coming weeks. TfGM, Wigan Council and Balfour Beatty have agreed to review again the options for completing the works on Astley Street and will present them at a second meeting organised for next Monday (October 20).
They also confirmed work on Hough Lane in Tyldesley, which is currently closed, was on track and should be completed on time allowing the road to reopen by the end of November.
Terry Dunn, director of environment at Wigan Council, said: “I want the public to know we are listening to their concerns. I know there have been unacceptable traffic delays in Leigh, Tyldesley and Astley recently and I’d like to apologise for that.
“This is a huge construction project taking place in an area with an aging infrastructure. The reason we’re building the busway is because we want to improve and invest in that infrastructure. This construction phase was always going to be extremely challenging and every effort has been made to ensure the impact is minimised.
“However, it’s clear the current situation cannot continue and we are going to explore every option open to us to see if we can reduce disruption further and cut congestion in the areas affected.”
Peter Boulton, head of programme management services at TfGM, said: “We fully appreciate the impact busway construction is having locally and we are committed to working with all our partners in Wigan and Salford to explore any options that will reduce that. We’ve had a positive meeting today and will continue to keep listening to local people and their representatives and, wherever possible, acting on their feedback.”