Road improvements in Preston city centre
New proposals have been announced to tackle congestion in Preston city centre, ahead of the busy Christmas shopping period.
Lancashire County Council has previously introduced a restriction of the right turn from Butler Street onto Fishergate. To ensure that drivers are observing this requirement, new 'no right-turn' signs will be added at the Butler St junction around Monday 17 October.
This will also be supported by the trial introduction of a bus-only section between the junctions with Butler Street and Corporation Street. This will be at the end of the existing bus lane, on the side of Fishergate heading towards the city centre.
A new camera will be installed to monitor the bus-only section, with a £60 Fixed Penalty Notice for any driver who misuses it. The new camera is expected to be in use from Monday 31 October, ready for the October half term holiday.
To coincide with the start of the busy shopping period in the run-up to Christmas, a new bus lane will also be trialled on Fishergate between Mount Street and Corporation Street between 11am and 6pm. Only buses and taxis will be able to use it. This will also come into effect from 31 October.
The new plans have been put forward following extensive traffic modelling and discussions with Preston BID, Preston City Council, Virgin Trains, the managers of the Fishergate Centre and St George's Centre, and managers of other city centre retailers/businesses.
The changes will be initially introduced for six months, followed by a period of consultation. After this time the measures would be reviewed, along with any responses from the public and local businesses.
County Councillor John Fillis, Cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "We have taken time to develop the right proposals that should help to improve people's journeys, by looking at the particular junctions where there have been problems and considering the overall capacity and layout of the surrounding network.
"Around a quarter of drivers are ignoring the Butler Street restriction and have continued to turn right, causing queuing and increasing the time it takes people to leave the car parks. This permanent change aims to improve the situation.
"Along with helping the current situation, improving access around the city centre will also attract more business investment in the future, which boosts the local economy."
As part of this work, the one-way traffic on Mount St will be reversed, allowing traffic to travel away from Fishergate. Garden St will also become one way from Mount St to Winckley Square.
Traffic leaving the St George's Centre car park would use Chapel Street, reducing the need to travel along Fishergate.
The existing parking for blue badge holders on Theatre Street would be relocated to Fox Street.
Funding for this work has come from the county council.
Councillor Fillis continued: "To build on the investment being made as part of the City Deal, we're taking action to address concerns and encourage people to continue to visit Preston.
"Traffic congestion in and around Preston City Centre has been a regular occurrence for some years, but we're working hard to tackle it.
"Vacancy rates have reduced from 24% in 2012 to 12% in 2015, and new shops and restaurants have been opening in the city over the past year.
"This is a great step forward as part of our overall vision for the Fishergate project, which is to create areas that are less dominated by traffic, making it friendlier and safer for pedestrians, and making the city a much more attractive place to shop and do business."
The Fishergate proposals would be introduced on an experimental basis as a short term measure, with other long term proposals also being considered, taking into account major developments around the bus station and Markets Quarter.