Motorists are being warned to expect long disruptions for a year with the news that a major road is to be closed for improvement works.
The heavily-used Accrington Road, to the west of its junction with Rossendale Road and Rosegrove Lane, will be closed from November 4th to allow engineers to widen the road as well as the junction.
The closure will see anyone working at Network 65 business park at Hapton and surrounding businesses having to seek alternative routes. Lancashire County Council highways engineers have said some temporary access will be provided for funeral traffic going to and from Burnley Crematorium on Accrington Road.
The £3m. scheme, close to Junction 9 of the M65, aims to break the bottleneck of congestion currently experienced at the junction of Accrington Road, Rosegrove Lane and Rossendale Road, and is part of the Hyndburn-Burnley-Pendle Growth Corridor.
The ambitious programme, which will also see trees felled along that stretch of Accrington Road to create two extra lanes, is part of the £320m Growth Deal secured from government by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.
The decision has been taken on safety grounds to avoid the likelihood of traffic queuing back onto the M65 at Junction 9, and allow room for work to take place safely within the restricted space available at the junction and on Accrington Road.
Simon Bucknell, operations manager for Lancashire County Council's highways department, said: "The 12 month closure is not a decision we have taken lightly, and we understand there will be quite a bit of disruption for motorists, businesses and residents.
"We accept that diverted traffic will mean other routes are going to be very busy as the traffic will have to go somewhere. However, the traffic on that leg of Accrington Road currently is struggling to cope with the flow. It is saturated at the moment so the improvements will definitely allow for future growth."
The remaining three arms of Rosegrove junction will continue to operate with temporary traffic lights in place.
A diversion will be in place via M65 Junction 10 for traffic to access this area to and from the motorway. A diversion will also be signed via local roads for non-motorway traffic and via Junction 8 for residents and businesses located to the west of the closure.
The improved junction will feature an extra lane on the busiest east-west approaches on Accrington Road, and a dedicated left turn lane for traffic approaching southbound on Rosegrove Lane and turning east onto Accrington Road.
The existing Burnley-bound bus stop to the east of the junction will also be replaced with a layby to avoid traffic queueing behind stopped buses. All arms of the junction will be widened to make turning movements easier, and improve safety. There is a record of injury collisions involving vehicles turning at the junction
The junction will also be upgraded with 'intelligent' traffic signals to ensure it operates at maximum efficiency as traffic levels vary throughout the day. There will also be Toucan crossings on every arm of the junction to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
The scheme represents a particular engineering challenge as there are a large number of services and utilities which need to be rerouted to allow the highway improvement to take place, with major fibre communication and broadband cables, gas, water and electricity pipes all passing through the junction.
Lancashire County Council has worked closely with the utility companies to plan the project with all parties having agreed to work alongside each other to minimise the time the work will take and reduce disruption as far as possible.
The scheme will also result in a net increase in greenery in the area due to an agreement to plant more than three trees for every one lost due to the need to widen Accrington Road.
County Councillor Keith Iddon, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "The aim of the improvements is to ensure that companies looking to invest in this area have the confidence that their goods and workers will be able to move efficiently.
"Rosegrove junction is already very busy and it is predicted that if we did nothing congestion would become severe in the next two years due to existing traffic growth. It's therefore essential that we take this opportunity to improve its capacity before we reach that stage.
"We know this work will be disruptive, particularly to nearby residents and businesses, and will affect travel across a wider area due to the need to close part of Accrington Road.
"However, this scheme is absolutely necessary to manage congestion in this area, and we are doing all we can to minimise how long it will take by working closely with the utility companies which will need to reroute their services.
"This investment is vital to lay the ground for the creation of jobs in this area and ensure that congestion on the roads does not become a barrier to growth."
Coun. Gordon Birtwistle, Burnley Council's executive member for economy and growth, said: "We're delighted to be working with our partners to improve this important road junction which has become busier as we've seen the surrounding area redeveloped with new homes and businesses.
"Keeping our borough moving is essential to making it attractive to inward investment.
"This work will help keep traffic and pedestrians moving at this important junction, improve their safety and bring wider environmental benefits in terms of cutting congestion and reducing pollution."
The county council's highways team has worked closely with Burnley Council to minimise disruption to the nearby crematorium and cemetery, with a one-way system to be introduced to ensure continued good access to both sites. The councils will also be working together throughout to manage access through the works when necessary for people attending services.
The diversions in place will be as follows:
• For motorway traffic, advanced warning on the M65 will direct motorists to Junction 10. Motorists who have exited at Junction 9 will be re-directed on to the M65 Westbound to Junction 8, and directed east on to M65 Eastbound to Junction 10.
• Non-motorway traffic approaching from the western side of the works will be directed east on Accrington Road (A679), east on Burnley Road, north on the A56, north on Higher Shuttleworth (A6068), east on Blackburn Road (A678), east through the centre of Padiham (A671), south on Kiddrow Lane (A646), south on Liverpool Road (A646) to Rosegrove Lane. The route will operate in reverse for non-motorway traffic approaching from the eastern side of the works.
• Traffic approaching the motorway from Rosegrove Lane/Rossendale Road will be directed east along Accrington Road to M65 Junction 10.
A number of bus services will be affected by the work. There will be changes to the timetable of Service 9 which is operated by Transdev and runs between Burnley and Accrington bus stations via Network 65 Business Park.
Chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Steve Fogg, said: "We are investing £8m. in the Burnley-Hyndburn-Pendle Growth Corridor in order to create the significantly improved transport links the area needs to attract business investment, drive job creation and support residential development.
"The LEP is investing £320m. in over 40 strategically important schemes like this across Lancashire, which together will help the county fulfil its potential for substantial economic growth for years to come."