Rethink over busway work

An artist's impression of the guided busway
An artist's impression of the guided busway

Plans to close a major through road in Tyldesley for 18 weeks to allow work on the Leigh guided busway to take place are to be reconsidered by transport officials.

It follows a meeting this morning (Monday 20 October) during which local councillors and MP Andy Burnham told officials in charge of busway construction that closing Astley Street for more than four months next year was unacceptable to the public already struggling with traffic disruption.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and contractor Balfour Beatty agreed to look again at their plans for work in Tyldesley. While the road will still need to be closed for some time while the busway is built, they committed to reducing the full closure of Astley Street and to look at further options to limit the impact of the work in the area.

The meeting was called by local politicians in response to feedback from the public concerned at the level of congestion busway work has been causing in Tyldesley, Astley, and Leigh.

A series of measures have already been announced to minimise disruption in the affected areas including:

* No non-busway road works to take place in the local area except for emergency utility works needed to keep on gas, water and power supplies to homes.

* A review of temporary traffic management on the A580.

The latest changes will see a reduction in the length of time Astley Street is shut. TfGM and Balfour Beatty said they are happy to explore options to see if work on the road can be done with less impact locally.

It’s also been agreed a public meeting will be held in November in Tyldesley so that the plans for the construction of the busway can be explained in more detail and people can raise their concerns with those in charge of the project.

And Wigan Council has launched an email address for residents to ask direct questions about on-going busway work in the borough.

Councillor Jo Platt, Wigan Council cabinet member, said: “As a Tyldesley resident myself, I’m well aware of the problems in the area as I’ve experienced them first-hand. I think residents will put up with a certain amount of congestion but what’s been happening lately has just been unacceptable.

“Thankfully, I am pleased to report those in charge of the scheme recognise this and I’m confident we can work together to reduce congestion and minimise disruption. I’m also really pleased – as are all local councillors – that a public meeting has been agreed as it will give the community a chance to get the answers they want.”

Leigh MP Andy Burnham said: “It is clear there’s now an understanding that everything must be done to ensure the situation over the last few weeks in the east of Wigan Borough doesn’t continue.

“I’m pleased Wigan Council, TfGM and Balfour Beatty have agreed that Astley Street cannot be closed for 18 weeks and are going to look at different options. Such a long closure of such a major road would have been intolerable for my constituents after the traffic disruption they’ve been experiencing in recent months.

“We’re making progress but I know there’s more work to be done. I’m hopeful that in time for a public meeting in November we’ll have something to offer the public in terms of tangible improvements.”

Details about the public meeting will be announced in coming weeks as will confirmation of the new arrangements for construction work on Astley Street.

Peter Boulton, Head of Programme Management Services at TfGM, said: “While we want to get the busway built as quickly as possible so people can start using their new services, we want to do this with the least disruption possible to local residents.

“We were happy to get the thoughts of locally elected representatives as to which of the options we had developed would be the best for the local community and will announce news plans in coming weeks.”

Also at this morning’s meeting were representatives from Urban Vision which coordinates local traffic management on behalf of Salford Council and their contractor Galliford Try. TfGM, Salford Council and Wigan Council have agreed to better coordinate road works and the communication of information regarding busway work.