COMMUTERS are facing months of traffic delays as work begins on the next stage of a major road revamp.
Temporary traffic lights are set to be put in place as engineers start on the £4.8million scheme to create a link road between Furthergate and the Red Lion roundabout.
The work, which will last 44 weeks, is part of the Pennine Reach programme and is ultimately aimed at reducing congestion, giving public transport priority and widening the key gateway.
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Traders have said that although North Midland Construction (NMC) — the company that will carry out the work — had promised to do their best to minimise disruption throughout the construction, congestion was a serious concern.
From next month, the firm will build a 1.1km link road that will pass parallel to Burnley Road and connect to Furthergate.
It will also widen a 700m section of road between Copy Nook and Furthergate to provide public transport priority in and out the town centre.
Maureen Bateson, executive member for regeneration at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “As the network is improved and developed, more development sites will open up and become available for employment and business opportunities.
"As such, the development of this modern network will improve and benefit the lives of all residents, not just bus users like myself. Some residents and motorists may face disruption over the coming months.
“Where possible, disruption will be kept to a minimum and the majority of resident should not be affected by this essential modernisation process.
“However, I ask those that are affected to be patient as we make our borough a better place to live and work.”
Geoff Poyzer, director of highways and utilities at NMC said: “We have a strong history of working on complex schemes of this nature and, in particular, in maintaining traffic flows throughout construction to minimise disruption to local road users.
“We look forward to implementing such an important project that will improve access to the town for the people of Blackburn and the surrounding area.”
Tony Duckworth, chairman of the Blackburn Chamber of Trade, said there were worries about businesses on the Furthergate Business Park struggling with deliveries because of the roadworks.
He said: “There has to be the potential for inconvenience because they are digging up the road.
“There will also be difficulties for the traffic at the busy times of the day.”
Blackburn with Darwen council Liberal Democrat leader David Foster added: “There is going to be a lot of disruption to business and to traffic from this work. It is almost a year.
“I hope the council have taken steps to mitigate this disruption and we need to know what these steps are.
“But we need to get more people on to public transport and out of their cars.
“This is what Pennine Reach is all about, so I think it will be worth it in the long run.”