According to the project design, a new road connection will be built from the Heysham and Morecambe peninsula to Junction 34 of the M6. The road will be a 4.8km long dual carriageway with separate paths for cyclists and pedestrians along it.
The project also incorporates the full restructuring of the junction 34 with the addition of new slip roads, a new bridge over the River Lune and a 600 space park and ride site.
As one of Lancashire County Council's key priority transport schemes, the road link will provide an improved access to Morecambe and industrial sites such as Port of Heysham and the Heysham power stations. Although, the current estimations indicate the journey savings of around five minutes, congestion in the Lancaster area, particularly on Caton Road, Morecambe Road and the Greyhound and Skerton bridges will be significantly reduced.
The development approval for the road scheme was obtained in March 2013 as a result of a prolonged process of a six-month examination period with three weeks of public hearings.
The opponents of the road link, Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe (TSLM), applied for a judicial review to dispute the decision made by the Secretary of State in favour of the project.
However,a judgement of the High Court in October, after a two-day hearing held in July, was to reject all five reasons put forward for the challenge, and TSLM was refused permission to make yet another application for judicial review.
TSLM made further applications to the Court of Appeal, requesting for the High Court’s judgement to be vetoed. The last of the requests was made yesterday during an oral hearing, when the application was rejected again.
County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, commented: “While I’m very satisfied at the strong judgement in our favour, I’m also extremely frustrated that objectors have cost the people of Lancashire an extra £2.6m by pursuing what amount to no more than delaying tactics.
“I went to see the depot being constructed earlier this week, and I’m looking forward to seeing work on the road itself start in earnest in the New Year.”
Costain is currently constructing an area for equipment storage and accommodation of staff and offices needed for the construction of the link road at an army camp on Halton Road leased from the Ministry of Defence.
The storehouse is well underway, expected to be completed in time to allow works on the road to begin in January.
Overall, it is estimated that the project will produce continuous regeneration benefits, with 3,000 people due to be employed during construction alone.
During the construction phase, up to 100 unemployed local people will receive training and job opportunities.
Andrew Langley, Costain project manager, said: “We are just looking forward to getting started on the construction of the new road. We have already engaged with several local companies, and have already started the local employment and training programme.”