The Bay Gateway: the new road connecting Heysham port and power station to the M6, as well as links to the city centre and surrounding areas.
Opening in October 2016, the road took over 72 weeks to build. Acquiring land, and applying for licenses to remove animal habitats was the hardest part of the project to plough through the Lancastrian countryside to create better connections to the city centre, the port, and industrial sites.
Not only has it turned out to be a huge convenience to the local people, it has become an opportunity for more investment in the area. For Heysham port, it means a shorter journey time to the M6, ultimately appealing to businesses and creating improved connections to Belfast, Dublin, and The Isle of Man. Also increased freight traffic through to the M6, could make the small province of Heysham a bigger and better haulage hotspot for the North-West.
The plan for the road has been in the pipeline since 1948. Over the years progressions were made to the get the project started. Heysham bypass was built over moss-land in 1994 to increase transport links to Lancaster, and in 2009 the project was initially approved funding of £111m by the Department for Transport. In 2014, the construction process began.
As Lancaster is situated on the main line of the railway network between Scotland, London and Manchester, and with the M6 running parallel, it is the perfect historic commuting city to the bigger business districts of the North; with an hours journey to Manchester, slightly longer to Liverpool, and only two-and-a-half hours to London.
Lancaster has the perfect balance of a small market town atmosphere coupled with areas of outstanding natural beauty in the local countryside, and beautiful views across Morecambe Bay.
Now with the new road, it takes about nine minutes to get from Heysham to the M6, instead of the 40-50 minutes it could take being stuck in traffic to get to the city centre and the M6.
Five years between the government approving the funding and the construction beginning was a long time to iron out the issues it came across. At the beginning there were initially three proposed routes for the road, all of which came with their individual problems with biodiversity, European laws and a licence from DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) to remove animal habitats (in this case bats and great crested newts) and acquisition of the land.
At the same time, it became clear to the Department for Transport the road was only predicted to be between 0-10 percent successful, which meant a huge gamble of £111m of tax payers money.
However, the government had to the spend the money (the budget eventually rose to £140m) on either building a M6 link road, or improving air quality in congested areas, and transport links in the city centre.
For local people it means almost no time being stuck in traffic going to, and leaving Lancaster in everyday’s rush hour. Not to mention, the improved air quality in the city centre and Carnforth, by taking more vehicles out of the more densely populated areas.
For businesses it means improved access to industrial and development sites, regeneration for the region, (construction of the road alone employed 3,000 people), and a park and ride scheme meaning better access to the city centre, in addition to the walking, and cycle paths on the road.
With these points considered, ploughing through the countryside with concrete has its positives. Improving air quality in congested areas, and encouraging investment to boost the local economy. According to a study by Lancashire County Council, for every £1.00 invested in the road, the community will get £4.00 back in long-term investment.