A-road misery brought by roadworks

Marus Bridge Island roadworks
Marus Bridge Island roadworks

A controversial overhaul of one of Wigan’s busiest commuter routes contributed to a frustrating few months for motorists, official figures reveal.

Both the average speed on the borough’s A-road network and the time it takes to drive a mile at peak time got worse between September and December of last year.

Latest figures for January produced by TfGM show that journey time reliability is now well above expectations on the route and journey speeds are stable

Mark Tilly

This period coincided with the roadworks at the former Marus Bridge roundabout that caused travel woes and confusion for thousands of commuters.

But the town hall has said light is clearly visible at the end of the tunnel with separate figures showing an improvement in 2016.

Figures released by the Department for Transport this month show the average speed decreased from 19.4 to 19mph and the minutes per mile average increased from 3.1 to 3.17.

The statistics follow a recent trend of increasing frustration for Wigan motorists although local authority bosses have highlighted that the borough’s numbers are better than several other areas in Greater Manchester.

Mark Tilley, Wigan Council’s assistant director for infrastructure, said: “The period from September to December last year coincided with the construction phase of the new junction at Marus Bridge so it was expected that journey times would have increased during this period.

“Latest figures for January produced by Transport for Greater Manchester show that journey time reliability is now well above expectations on the route and journey speeds are stable.

“This shows a significant improvement from December and means that motorists coming into and out of the town centre via Marus Bridge are now able to plan their journey time with confidence.”

Mr Tilley added that work on the new A49 link road - a dual carriageway between Goose Green and Westwood Park – is due to start later this year to further ease congestion woes.

Earlier this month interim mayor for Greater Manchester Tony Lloyd was urged to make improving commute times a priority for authority leaders.

According to think-tank IPPR North that has urged that no resident with a job within their city region should have to commute for more than an hour by bus.

The Leigh-Manchester guided busway, which will be soon fully up and running, has the potential to help this target being reached for many in the borough.

Wigan borough, with the second highest population in Greater Manchester, has its share of other traffic hot spots but initiatives aimed at tackling them aren’t always universally welcomed.

A road aims to connect the M58/M6 motorway junction at Pemberton to Pemberton Business Park in a bid to ease congestion on Ormrkirk Road, but some residents complain it will cut Winstanley and Highfield off from Pemberton.

And the Amberswood Link Road planned between Ince and Hindley has sparked claims that it would threaten wildlife and in fact make congestion worse.