Cyclists celebrate Highways England £1.1m junction improvements in Ellesmere Port
A £1.1 million scheme to improve safety and create a new cycle path at a busy junction near Ellesmere Port has been officially opened by a group of local cyclists.
Members of the Chester Cycling Campaign were among the first to ride along the new cycle path through the busy Two Mills junction, where the A550 meets the A540 in Cheshire.
The Highways England project involved creating a new 320 metre cycleway through the junction, which is used by more than 37,000 vehicles every day, with new traffic lights and crossings also making it easier to cross the A550.
The project is among 24 cycling schemes completed in the North West over the past two years, as part of a £100 million government investment across England to make it easier for cyclists to cross motorway junctions and use major A roads.
They include a new 1.5 mile shared cycle path along the A585 near Fleetwood; a new 700 metre shared cycle path by the A5117 at Dunkirk near Chester; and a new 600 metre shared cycle path near junction 21 of the M60 alongside the A663 in Oldham, along with improvements to footbridges, signs and road markings.
Work is also due to start later this month on a new 400 metre shared cycle path under junction 9 of the M53 at Ellesmere Port, providing a cycle link from the town to the National Waterways Museum and canal towpath.
Phil Tyrrell, Project Manager at Highways England, said: “We’re committed to significantly improving safety across our road network, and the new cycle path as well as the wider and longer right turn lanes at Two Mills will make it much easier and safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to cross the junction.
“We want to provide cycling facilities that give people a genuine choice about whether to travel in their car or to get on a bike instead. If we can encourage more people to use their bikes for local journeys then this should also improve the flow of traffic for drivers travelling longer distances.”
The A540, which runs between Chester and Hoylake, is popular with cyclists and group rides set off from a cyclists’ café near the Two Mills junction during most weekends throughout the year.
The new cycle path, which is shared by cyclists and pedestrians, runs along the southbound A540. The route crosses two new islands on the A550 at the Two Mills junction before continuing along the A540, and a new high-friction road surface has been laid to reduce the risk of collisions.
Peter Williams from Neston is a member of the Chester Cycling Campaign, which campaigns for new and improved cycle routes. He said: “The new cycle lane and other improvements at Two Mills make it much safer and easier to cross the junction and a lot of the cyclists I’ve been speaking to think they’re wonderful.
“There have been several accidents involving cyclists at the junction over the years and the new layout means you’re now much more protected.
“We’re all aware of the health benefits of cycling and improvements like these help to create safe cycling routes as well. I’d definitely encourage anyone interested in taking up cycling in 2018 to joint their local Cycling UK group and to explore their local cycle routes.”
Highways England also opened a new three-mile route for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders in Cheshire last year following the completion of the new A556 link road between the M56 and the M6. The old A556 has been converted into a B road with a shared cycle path.