Tough new traffic rules are being brought in to help ease congestion on Preston’s controversial shared space scheme.
Bus lanes and cameras are amongst the measures announced today in an attempt to rid Fishergate and its surrounding roads of nose-to-tail jams.
County Hall bosses have reacted to widespread criticism of their £3.4m Central Gateway project by getting tough on drivers who cause bottlenecks by flouting the regulations.
A £60 fine will be issued to anyone caught by the new cameras turning right out of Butler Street towards Corporation Street.
And the bus lanes will be introduced in both directions on Fishergate on a trial basis to further prevent motorists causing hold-ups.
The new restrictions are being brought in after traffic monitoring showed around one in four drivers are ignoring the “no right turn” signs at the top of Butler Street.
More signs will now be added at that problem junction to make motorists more aware of the rule.
“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,” said Coun John Fillis, LCC cabinet member for highways and transport.
The changes, announced at County Hall today, are:
• New “no right turn” signs at the top of Butler Street from Monday October 17.
• A “bus only” lane for a trial period between Butler Street and Corporation Street in the direction of the city centre.
• A new camera to monitor the bus only lane with a £60 fixed penalty for drivers who ignore it.
• A new “bus and taxi” lane between Mount Street and Corporation Street, heading towards the railway station, between 11am and 6pm from October 31. That too will be for a trial period.
The county council has been bombarded with complaints about the shared space scheme since it was first introduced two years ago. Drivers have complained about being stuck in jams for up to three hours at busy times and research has shown some shoppers are turning their backs on the city centre because of the problems.
Officers say they have consulted with Preston BID, the city council, Virgin Trains, the managers of the Fishergate and St George’s shopping centres and other business people before coming up with the changes.
They will review the scheme again in six months time to see if the new measures have helped ease congestion.